The Power of Social: IBM Reverses Decision to Ban Uber After 26-Year-Old Employee Disagrees on Internal Social Network

One of my favorite topics of discussion about Social is the power it can have to flatten even the most hierarchical organizations. I especially love when my own company provides examples of how this works.

If you don’t know me or haven’t yet read my bio, I’m a consultant at IBM and currently lead Social in Europe for our digital consulting agency, IBM Interactive Experience. One of my responsibilities includes helping our clients become more collaborative, whether it’s by using IBM Connections or similar tools like Jive and Yammer.

With nearly 400,000 employees, you can probably guess that IBM has a bit of a hierarchy. All of these employees also have access to Connections, the internal Social Collaboration network we also provide to our clients.

As consultants, we’re expected to be where our clients need us, when they need us there, anywhere in the world. This can lead to some pretty gnarly expense reports, and we welcome any chance to help streamline this process.

Then iUber Screenshotn March, the IBM expense policy was updated with the following language, “Real-time ridesharing (such as Uber, Lyft, Sidecar and Haxi) is non-reimbursable and strongly discouraged by IBM for business travel due to safety considerations.”

Despite your feelings about Uber, its reliable ubiquitous service, and the ability to store credit card information, make it a favorite app for many in my industry.

A bit miffed by this announcement, 26-year-old consultant Max Black took to Connections to post a blog entry outlining the business case for allowing Uber titled, “Global IBM petition to bring back ridesharing reimbursement.”

Quickly picked up by IBM’s internal Social Analytics, Max’s post was brought to the attention of head of Social Quote Tighe WallHR and senior vice president Diane Gherson. In the true spirit of Social, Diane responded directly to Max on Connections and explained the reversal of the ban.

Not only has Max’s post led to positive change within the organization, his post has likely resulted in his increased satisfaction with his employer and therefore decreased the likelihood of him leaving for greener pastures. He’s also undoubtedly gained the attention of IBM leadership.

If an employee in your organization disagrees with a policy, where will he take his complaint? Your internal Social network? Or worse, to Twitter or Facebook? Offering your employees the venue to openly discuss ideas and provide feedback will have a positive affect on both them and your company.

Source: Yahoo! Finance

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