Gm586 Case Analysis Template

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Running head: IBM CASE STUDY

Unit 4 Team IBM Case Study

Team D: Matthew Neitzel, Christopher Reid, Amado Sanchez, Terrence Spears


Leadership Strategies for a Changing World
May 22, 2012

Dr. James Wood

Unit 4: Team Case Analysis

Becoming a global powerhouse is a tough feat to conquer. There are many ways businesses can reach this accomplishment. IBM is a company that is innovative and strategic. Being able stay ahead of the game is part of the solution to becoming a global powerhouse. What kept IBM from falling behind is the fact that they developed changed. Over the course of this analysis one will see how IBM utilized different programs to develop bigger change; how this became important to the people they came in contact with, how they developed goals and how to they were distributed throughout the company; and coming up with social projects and any recommendations brought forth throughout this analysis. Thomas J. Watson said this, “Every time we've moved ahead in IBM, it was because someone was willing to take a chance, put his head on the block, and try something new” (BrainyQuote, 2012).


IBM's classic approach to a society problem was to overlook it and move on. As it is explained by Xavier de Brito, the distribution director for Latin America, he clearly states the importance of caring for society and doing something about it. IBM understood that in order to continue operating at a high level for many years, you must have to love the company you work for. Another reason IBM decided to make a change in the community and society as a whole is because they are a trusted and proven company. Dravinda Seetharam, government programs executive stated that “there’s also an expectation that an organization like IBM contributes to the community. More and more, the social programs give us leverage. The best part of it is, most of the bureaucrats now, they listen to us. Government wants ideas from us; they want to know how to improve things.” In order to be effective, IBM knows they have to understand the community where the stakeholders reside. Understanding the culture, embracing it and supporting it create value to the company’s reputation and ultimately increase the bottom line (Kanter, 2011).

The group that finds IBM's transformation into a globally integrated enterprise the most important is the company members and stockholders. The company's CEO, Sam Palmisano, desires that all the company's employees, or IBMers, feel there is a connection to the company. This way the company's success with create success for the IBMers as well. One way to do this is through the company's long standing commitment to fairness and social responsibility, as well as a strong culture. The company felt it needed to push for more IBMer participation and set up ways for the company's community to give ideas and show support for the company's values. The company's three values included, "Dedication to every client's success. Innovation that matters for customers and the world. Trust and personal responsibility in all relationships" (Kanter, 2011, p.1). Many managers saw the importance of these values and made what was already part of the culture more explicit and externalized. With the help of the new values, the IBMers were able to get more emotionally connected to each other. The new values were integrated into everything throughout the company. Mangers would use the values in coaching IBMers. Some would also find out how to match the values to situations from roundtable discussions about customers or employees. Outside the company the new values also helped people from in other countries and governments see the importance in IBM's change. The connection IBMers felt flowed out to global communities as well and was desired by most everyone. Communities were stronger because of the efforts of corporate gifts, employee gifts, and volunteer time throughout the world. Overall, IBM's big change was important and felt by millions worldwide (Kanter, 2011).

In order to develop this “even bigger change,” IBM has grouped its businesses into four targeted areas:

  • Global Services – focusing on a client’s IT needs, business consulting, system integration, and application management,

  • System and Technology – providing larger clients with more computing and data storage assistance, increasing customer sales,

  • Software – providing a middleware and operating system to assist customers with IT applications new to their businesses,

  • Global Financing – promoted the selling or leasing of used products as well as offering clients commercial financing (Kanter, 2009).

This new development has driven IBM to new heights within the world market. The company continues to grow in each of these areas. IBM was transformed into a single globally-integrated enterprise focusing on serving the need for processed information in the form of solutions for enterprises in nearly 170 countries. The company had to craft a strategy and organize solutions to implement its vision. IBM needed to get rid of the businesses that do not fit the vision and acquire the capabilities that were needed. In any case, IBM had to make sure the economic model is profitable for the customers and the company. Several software companies were acquired so that those industry-focused teams could leverage efforts profitably and repeatedly. If not, growth would not happen and labor would have been high. As a result, services were productized and showed a higher margin in earnings. This created centers of excellence around the world to include a full range of IBM capabilities. IBM empowered teams that could deliver for the customer and held them accountable. These teams were asked to deliver IBM's solutions in myriad markets around the world. The effectiveness of this stage for external social change is proven by succession from within IBM. The financial results were magnificent (Bower, 2012).


IBM had the intention of reaching as many individuals as possible and they realize that they would need some help. They created an outsourcing strategy, where other partners would also support the community and broaden the assistance. However, there are some problems related when companies outsource some of its services. A miscommunication between the real goals and vision of the companies are sometimes blurry and the final service provider is normally what the company desires. A follow-up action is normally weak between outsourcing partners and the community due to the lack of management hands-on actions and supervision (Mcray, 2008). IBM should create clearer strategies to continue to support the communities, education assistance and society without being liable for the actions of other partners. IBM can suffer from bad reputation and embarrassment by other partners if they do not create better strategies to reach out and provide the services with the same quality and care that they intent (Kanter, 2011).


In conclusion, this analysis uncovered many different things IBM does to maintain their identity. Normally IBM would come across a problem and just move on but the company figured out ways to hit this problem head on. Running away from problems only creates new problems in the end. It would be a never-ending cycle for the organization, which would put them in a deep hole. IBM was great at developing innovative products but one thing that was more important was the development of change. They came up with ways to split up the business into four different categories to help with any aspect of the business. Having the knowledge that change is needed is a key to thriving in a successful business. The big key to any successful organization is communication and having an understanding of what is needed by everybody in the company to obtain all goals set out. Keeping an open pipeline of communication waves allows each individual to know exactly the path that needs to be taken so each associate can do their jobs to IBM standards. Not every company is perfect and IBM falls into that category but it is how you overcome those imperfections that make or break an organization.


Bower, J. (2012). Sam Palmisano's transformation of IBM. HBR Blog Network. Retrieved from

BrainyQuote. (2012). IBM quotes Retrieved from

Kanter, E. (2011). IBM values and corporate citizenship. Harvard Business School: 9-308-106. 16 pages.
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