By the end of 2003, John Kelly, who was executive for IBM’s Technology Group, gathered 10 executives to IBM’s chip factory in East FishKill, New York. His intention was made clear: IBM need to share its most advanced semiconductor research with allies.

After a long heated debate, Kelly prevailed. Soon thereafter, IBM’s built what it calls an “open ecosystem” of chip R&D with nine partners, including Advanced Micro Devices, Sony, Toshiba, Freescale Semiconductor, and Albany Nanontech, a university research center. “We could all envision nightmare scenarios of a decade of research value being lost,” [1] said Bernard Meyerson who ran research and development for chip division.

What Meyerson worried make sense. Result of decade research can ruin in a crack if not supported with a clear regulation and strong organization structure. Further, different culture bring resistances in the adoption stage, though been accepted in the conception stage.

In general, those problems have the same root: actor role in a collaborative network. In competition for instance, how a scientist placed themselves among their partners: friend or foes? What kind of incentives needed to encourage scientist as an individual but also foster the community knowledge? How can a scientist/corporation contribution measured in the new technology created? What kind of freedom does the scientist have in a community?

To answer those questions, a reflexive awareness needed. Rather count on a rigid formula, reflexive awareness proposed feedback mechanism, anticipative scenarios and a more precise calculation. For example, if a policy doesn’t converge to the desirable goal, the actors have other scenarios that can direct them to condition wanted.

Off course it is easier to say than do as seen in Crollers2 chip research alliance. Netherlands-based nxp Semiconductors, Freescale and STMicroelectronics, partners in the alliance, went on their own ways because interest divergences. Later, two of three companies who leaved Crollers2 alliance decided to join IBM’s. Gregg Bartlett Vice President of Freescale said consideration behind the collaboration was based on IBM’s experience. “They have a lot experiences, and there won’t be any surprises,” [2] said Bartlett.

In reflexive awareness point of view, no surprises indicate calculable of an action and existence of anticipative scenarios. This awareness is gain through understanding and experience. The actors have anticipated the complexity earlier so they might conduct their assumptions and strategies to prevent their goal.

IBM’s success doesn’t come instantly. In 1990’s IBM’s failed to collaborate with Germany’s Infineon Technologies and Japan’s Toshiba due to corporate cultures clashed. At IBM, people typically reached decisions by discussing problems in open meetings, while at Toshiba people prefer to make decision after the meetings. As a solution, IBM assigning people to take notes on the meetings and issue report later. [3]

Throughout the case study presented, I have shown the importance of calculable scenarios. As observed in IBM learning process related with difference corporate culture, the problem is how to anticipate the differences, not the differences itself. The same approach can used to answer interest divergences: how far the corporate are willing to collaborate, and how can these boundaries understood by other actors so they can make a collaboration based on their interest.

About The Author

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.