Leaving IBM

19 05 2009

Some of you may have noticed that I’ve been very quiet over the last month in all the social media channels I normally hang around. I could use the standard excuse and just say I was busy – and I was *really* busy in the last few weeks, including several speaking engagements and trips to Ottawa, Nice (France) and St Catherines (Ontario). However, Twitter pretty much ruined that easy way out, as nobody can honestly say that they don’t have time for writing 140 characters (despite what Jennifer Aniston thinks). The real reason for my silence was that I was going through some soul searching about what I really wanted from my career and after much consideration, I decided it was time for me to leave IBM and try something new.

As I still need to understand better the social computing guidelines for the company I’ll be joining, this post will focus instead on the company I’m leaving.

IBM has my undying admiration as one of the few truly global companies and a great place to work. I thoroughly enjoyed my 12+ years there, and owe much of what I know and what I am to the people I interacted with, IBMers and clients alike. IBM is not just a logo, a bunch of buildings, some hardware / software platform or a services methodology. IBM is this ever-evolving organism whose strength comes mostly from the diversity and reach of its people, and the capacity of reinventing itself.

Before joining IBM, I thought every IBMer would be like the PC guy from the Apple ads, but with blue suits. Once you get to know the real IBMers, you’ll find that the PC and the Mac guys are as real as Ronald McDonald or Tony the Tiger. Over the years, I had the privilege of meeting geologists, biologists, physicists, architects, athletes, musicians, writers, actors and philosophers, whose titles in their business cards – “Developer”, “IT Architect”, “Business Analyst”, “Partner”, “Project Manager” – could mislead you to think they are one-dimensional beings.

The excerpt below, from Jeff Howe’s Crowdsourcing book, describes well IBM’s main asset: diverse and geographically dispersed people, connected by technology and purpose. By embracing social media, “I‘m By Myself”, like the IBM typewriters, became a thing from the past.

“(…) Each one of us possesses a far broader, more complex range of talents than we can currently express within current economic structures. In this sense crowdsourcing is the antithesis of Fordism, the assembly-line mentality that dominated the industrial age. (…) Contrary to the foreboding, dystopian vision that the Internet serves primarily to isolate people from each other, crowdsourcing uses technology to foster unprecendented levels of collaboration and meaningful exchanges between people from every imaginable background in every imaginable location”

Thus, I just wanted to conclude this post with my deep gratitude not to the abstract concept of IBM as a company, but to each person in the huge IBM crowd who I had the fortune of interacting with in the Web 2.0 collaboration spaces or in offices around the globe. Thank you all and keep in touch.