I had the opportunity this week, thanks to my colleague, Peter Mostachetti, to meet Joshua Erlich, author of Mind Shifting: Focus for Performance. We are interested in Joshua’s pragmatic approach to mindfulness in the workplace. Perfect timing to fuel the mindfulness campaign I have been co-creating with our health and wellbeing team and a global volunteer cadre of passionate IBMers who are part of IBM’s mindfulness community. Joshua validated for me that mindfulness is not only a practice of meditation, it is also a practice of “present, open, engaged, attention” that can take the form of simple everyday mindsets and actions (e.g., celebrating, establishing interruption free zones, hosting walking meetings, sharing your point of view, balancing attention to process and outcomes).
The aim of our campaign, to launch in the fourth quarter, is to show IBMers the many opportunities in their day that they have lead in ways that support them and their team members in making smart decisions fast, opening the creativity that leads to innovation, creating personal connections foundational for successful teams and long lasting client relationships, and living healthy so they can perform at their peak every day.
Over the past 15 months, I’ve been leading a mindfulness movement in IBM. I’ve seen our virtual community grow from just over 200 to nearly 2000, and over a dozen mindfulness-related communities emerge within the company. I’ve learned an incredible amount from the more than 100 blogs community members have posted, the education they have created (e.g., on neuroscience), and the webinars they’ve led (e.g., on topics such as an agile workplace, compassionate leadership, health).
We have IBMers in over 15 countries practicing mindfulness together at the office, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, England, France, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Poland, Scotland Slovakia, Spain, and the United States, thanks to passionate IBMers taking the initiative to make a difference at their IBM sites.
We’ve created virtual mindfulness programs available on-demand, and there are a number of ongoing and scheduled mindfulness series accessed via teleconference (e.g., 15-minute Monday teleconference sessions hosted by a team in the UK led by Sharon Conway, and 6-8 week series of weekly 30-minte recorded conference calls around themes such as “Stress Less” and “Wise Action” led by me and an amazing mindfulness guru, Katiuscia Berretta).
We developed curated collections of mindfulness-related mini-habits and mindful pauses that can be integrated easily into one’s life, as well as collections of mindfulness quotes and books.
Increasingly, our executive team is opening to the possibilities of mindfulness. For example, last month Joanne Wright, VP Supply Chain, asked us to host a mindfulness booth at a summer fun day being hosted at our Somers, New York site, and this month Laura Sewell, who leads our Talent Partner team for Global Technology Solutions, and Debbie Kestin-Schildkraut, Director of our Worldwide Business Partner Digital Strategy who leads a group of Emerging Leaders, will be hosting one-hour introductory mindfulness sessions for their teams.
A team of IBMers, led by Simon Tierney, is building an app that helps people be more productive and healthy through mindful approaches. This initiative took off as part of IBM’s #cognitivebuild, an enterprise crowdfunding initiative to drive internal awareness and usage around the power of Watson.
We’ve been invited to share at external engagements including a Dallas-Fort Worth Women in Business & Technology luncheon where Angela Assis spoke and the Montreal International Society for Performance Improvement The Building Blocks of Culture Strategy event (Vicki Flaherty & Daniel Poliquin).
IBM has been featured in several external articles (Evidence for Mindfulness: A Research Summary for the Corporate Sceptic, 3/25/16, Business Record, 4/15/16, and The Australian, 3/19/15), and we (myself along with Megan Moyer and Katiuscia Berretta) are writing externally about mindfulness on the IBM Jobs blog (Why Mindfulness Matters, Building Your Focus Muscle – Using Your Breath to Create Greater Awareness, Get Going with Mindful Mini-Habits, The Goodness of Gratitude, Have a Little Compassion, Starting with YOU).
It’s a very exciting time of transformation at IBM. We are leading a new era – a cognitive era – and I believe it’s critically important that we be present and lead with intention to get to our envisioned destination. I am grateful to the incredible colleagues who are co-creating a great future for IBMers, IBM, our clients, and the world.
* The beautiful opening image is part of the Mindfulness Program recently launched at the IBM Client Innovation Center in Brno which was created by Jana Mitzoda.
Other mindfulness posts by me: