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Background of the company and its industry

International Business Machine (IBM) is one of the oldest multinational companies standing and still going strong to this date. The company was formed during the 1880s. As a multinational dealing in computer technology as well as IT consulting, the company has had an unprecedented growth for the past over a century that it has been in existent. The multinational specializes in multifarious products ranging from manufacture and sale of computer hardware and software. It also offers services on infrastructure, service hosting as well as consultation services on diverse areas such as nanotechnology and mainframe computers. In the most of the historical aspects of IBM, it has widely been known for the reputation of being one of the largest reputable companies in the entire world in provision of computers as well as system integrators. As a matter of fact, the company is said to have absorbed over 388, 000 employees in the various branches worldwide. The company is also known to be the leader in profitability pertaining information technology industry (Gerstner, 2004). In fact, compared to other technology companies, it has the highest number of patents in the U.S.  That not withstanding, it has about eight laboratories for research on diverse components. The laboratories are located in different parts of the world and fulfill different technological needs.

Owing to the level of quality products and the contribution towards the enhancement of technology, IBM employees have received various Prizes in several categories. For instance, there have been five Nobel Prizes, five National Medals of Technology, four Turing Awards as well as five National Medals of Science. For the success and achievement all this level, the company has endeavored to employ highly qualified and experienced employees. The experts absorbed in the company range from scientists, engineers, consultants, as well as professionals on sales. The formation of the IBM as a multinational can be traced back to the 1880s during which electronic computers had not developed. During that time, a merger between three companies each specializing in some specific kind of Information technology was initiated. The three companies that merged leading to the formation of IBM are: the International Time Recording Company which was formed in Endicott in 1900, the Tabulating Machine Company formed in 1800s in Washington, D.C and the Computing Scale Corporation founded in Dayton, Ohio, USA in 1901. The success witnessed in the formation of the new company is attributed to one great financier Charles Flint. The newly merged company was named Computing Tabulating Recording (CTR). The newly formed company, CTR, was responsible in the production of diverse products (Watson, 2003). Some of the assorted products from the merger included time keeping systems meant for employees, automatic meat slicers,  development of computers, coffee grinders as well as punched card equipment. In spite of differing product lines on which the three companies making the merger engaged in, the engineer of the merger strongly believed that there was a beneficial relationship for the companies dealing in production of equipment.

 The merger of the three companies and only managed by one Flint proved challenging and difficult, thus it was imperative that help was highly needed. As such, Thomas Watson Sr. was called in from a position of number 2 chief executive in National Cash Register Company to be a General Manager in CTR. This was at around 1914. Soon after a period of one year, Watson was exalted to the position of a President. Having been extremely experienced in NCR, he brought a wealth of business tactics which saw him immediately transform CTR after implementing a series of business management tactics. For instance, he embarked on generous incentives on sales, high regard for customer service besides boosting morale and loyalty of the employees on the company. Thus CTR was a completely turn around for the very best.               

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Types of groups common in the organization

There are diverse sets of logical groups organized in IBM. The Director gives consent to the formation of diverse logical sets of these groups with an aim of creating a possibility for effective objects management. There are specific characteristics that are associated with the management of these groups. The major characteristics of these groups range from groups that include the management of objects, groups that include groups on management of objects, another characteristic associated with groups in IBM is that the objects managed by these groups can be drawn from several other groups. Similarly, when a task is performed on each group, it is apparent that all the members of the group have been impacted by the action so performed on the group. Commonly, there are various groups present in IBM which are formed with an aim of meeting specific needs as prevalent in the organization. Depending on the directory catalog of the groups in IBM, there are several groups that can be found.

To start with, there are static groups. These are groups that have specific list of objects to be managed. In this category, the members of the groups are fixed and there is no tendency to change them. Similarly, the contents of the group are automatically updated. A good example of the managed objects of a static group would include management of objects that are physical and located in a specific room used for the purpose of a server. Dynamic groups form the second category of groups found in IBM.  These groups are formed with the intention of specified object management. In the creation of dynamic groups, it is a common practice to specify the criteria that the diverse attributes as well as the properties of the systems to be managed will apply. This is basically meant to provide a match on all the aspects of the group. In the event that the attributes and properties of the group altering, there is immediate and automatic removal or addition from or into the group (Richard, 2002). Another category of groups is the task-based groups. These are formed from dynamic groups that IBM Director Task performs on objects that are managed. For instance, a group based on task may have all the objects managed in the group. In a task-based group, all the tasks of the group may be defined in the contexts of the operation based on the status of the group as well as the sessions for which the group is based upon. Thus all the above groups are essential in the determination of the outcomes of the organizational growth and development. Other groups found n IBM are the Hardware status groups which are responsible for the information and status of the hardware as well as the warnings associated with them. As such, these groups are essential in the management of the unresolved status and events of the hardware.  

Recommendations for successful facilitation of groups

There are several studies that have been carried out in an effort to facilitate the success of groups in the performance of their outlined tasks. In a more close approach, there has been a Group Support System (GSS) enhancement in IBM. The development of GSS has led to intense commercialization of the organization due to the positive impacts that have been created. The organization as a whole has witnessed effective commercial systems which are evident through the field research conducted on group facilitation and enhancement. Through the cumulative documentation and comparison of group performance in different periods of time, IBM has obtained over 56% savings which are solely attributed to the enhancement of GSS. In spite of positive remarkable improved obtained by IBM on application of GSS, some scholars have argued that it does not sorely translate into positive results; it requires other tools of effective group performance to remain highly functional. As such, scholars have suggested on stressing the ability of the group facilitator to yield high positive results on group performance. The application of GSS is the determinant of the success achieved. As such, it is hereby recommended that the best techniques of application of GSS are applied in order to have the best results. In a nutshell, a plan should be drawn on how to coordinate as well as direct the work performed by each member of the group. Similarly, it is imperative to know that the significance of technology in facilitating group performance is immense. Thus carefully orchestrated collection of diverse expenses should be put into practical use to come up with a productive GSS.  

Some strengths and weaknesses in group decision making

The management is charged with the responsibility of ensuring that there is development and growth of the organization. As such, the best way to find out whether the organization is flowing in the right direction, it is imperative to embark on SWOT analysis. As a matter of fact, this is the most trusted way of determining whether the organization is being run properly, effectively and in accordance to the set objectives and goals. In conducting SWOT analysis, the management takes a calm, honest look into the organization's factors leading to strength, weaknesses, opportunities as well as threats. In the contexts of IBM, there are numerous strengths as well as weaknesses that exist in the groups forming the organization. To start with, the manner in which the groups are organized is a great strength. Group effectiveness is highly dependent on the nature of the work for which it is formed to perform. Thus the fact that the various groups are organized based on tasks and objectives means that they can yield high level of desired results (Richard, 2002). Similarly, it can be observed that the different groups in IBM have not only embraced GSS but also that application of state-of-the-art technology is widely applied. This by itself means that results can be easily and readily obtained. Another strength found in the IBM groups is the selection of able facilitators who are well aware of their roles in meeting the needs of the groups. As such, it is no wonder that the groups in IBM are good performers and effectively play the role of enhancing growth of the entire organization.


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Nevertheless, every organization and group has some weaknesses despite the existence of several strengths and positive feedbacks. For instance, there could be some confusion in regard to performance of groups incase there is alteration of properties and attributes.  Therefore, this could result to failure in the realization of the objectives of the group. Similarly, conflicting group interests could affect the cohesive performance of the organizational members who get divided along group lines.  This is mainly through the competition that exists among the different groups of the organization who would want to outdo each other by coming up with the best results. In order to improve on the group decision making, it is here recommended that the groups should always draw their objectives together. This will create a common ground for all the members to be united together under the same corporate burner thus strive to not only attain the group goals but also the corporate goals. This is a tool to foster unity and harmony in group performance. For an organization of such a large size as IBM, there are various suggestions that can be suggested by diverse groups on how effectiveness can be achieved. For instance, there are those that may argue that breaking the organization into smaller units could result to massive reduction of bureaucracy and thus bring about flexibility in decision making. However, this may not be the immediate cause of success on the part of the organization. This fact was proved by one of the IBM's Chief Executives, Gerstner. He took the bold step that the IBM could perform effectively by embracing a unified approach towards attainment of goals. Thus there is immense success associated with the centralization of decision making in the organization.

Types of teams found in IBM and their goals

A variety of teams exist in IBM. The existence of teams in also determined by the variety of roles that these teams perform. For instance, teams are charged with the responsibility of making new products, provision of services, coordination of projects, negotiation of deals, advisory roles as well as decision making functions. In IBM, there are four commonly known teams which have diverse functions. They include: problem-solving teams, cross-functional teams self-managed teams as well as virtual teams (Richard, 2002).  All these teams play a crucial role in the overall performance and success of the organization.  Problem-solving teams are very essential in the analysis of the problems that face the organization and ways in which the problems can be addressed. These teams come up with ways and means towards which the major challenges of the organization can be adequately resolved. In spite of the role played by these teams, it is rare that they are mandated to implement the suggestions they come up with. Most of the members of these teams are those that share a responsibility in the organization. The major role of these teams is to investigate the sources of the problems faced in the realization of quality products. Due to the limited scope of performance of these teams, workers are minimally involved in decision making.

Self-managed work teams comprise of employees jobs which are highly related and also interdependent. As such, they generally take on the roles played by their former supervisors. One of the major roles played by these teams is the planning as well as scheduling of work. Similarly these groups are involved in the assignment of tasks to the members as well as coordinating the collective pace control on job performance. Cross functional teams are made up of employees who come from almost the same level in the hierarchy of the organization. Nevertheless, these employees come from diverse work groups from the organization. The members of the team join hands together with an aim of accomplishing some specific tasks. In IBM, large teams for carrying out tasks have been initiated in order to achieve the highest level of tasks. These teams are composed of employees from diverse departments. Virtual teams are in existence with no particular objectives. However, these teams are formed with the aim of handling any issues that may arise that are not carried out by the other three types of teams. Incase there are occurrences that necessitate immediate deliberation; these teams are called upon to act on them and provide necessary suggestions.    

In spite of the critical roles played by the various teams, there are various pitfalls that may lead to the failure in decision making effectiveness. For instance, decisions made by teams face a pitfall in that before the attainment of a decision so much time is consumed. Incase an individual was to be responsible for the decision making; it would have consumed very minimal time.  Similarly, before the finalizing of team decisions so much time and resources are spent. Where authoritarian people are considered more, there is failure of team spirit as the minority opinions are not considered in the overall decision made. In most cases, there is no common sharing of responsibility and accountability in teams. Thus the team ends up being split leading to failed efficiency.  In order to avoid the failures associated with teams, it imperative to ensure that all the members are equally involved; that every opinion of each member is taken into consideration before the final decision is taken. This would lead to both efficiency and increased responsibility and accountability on the outcome of the decisions made.

Most inspirational leader in IBM

For an organization to be effective, leadership has to play a very crucial role. In case of IBM, there are various leaders who have bee instrumental in the growth of the organization into what it is now.  Various leaders have been regarded as being very inspirational for the attainment of the vast growth of the organization. In IBM, it is very true to say that Mr. Watson Jr. was the most inspirational leader in the company. Having taken leadership of the organization from his father, Thomas Watson Sr. he steered the organization to very great heights by embracing very important values that definitely shaped the future of the organization. From the legacy demonstrated by Watson Jr. it is evident that any great institution has to be based on certain specific core principles. The major leadership qualities that make Watson Jr. a very inspirational leader not only to IBM but also to the entire category of managers are his value of three most important values to steer the organization. As the CEO in IBM, Mr. Watson Jr. stressed on the relevance of three core beliefs that lead to growth of an organization: respect for the individual person, offering best company service than any other company in the world and pursuance of every task in belief that it possible to accomplish it in a fashion of great superiority. From the foregoing, all the leaders in IBM sought to not only follow on the example made by Watson Jr. but also that they have practiced what they believe. As such, they have won the approval and trust of both the employees and customers.

There are virtually all caliber of leadership roles played in IBM. Some of the roles include leading of teams, mentorship programs, online leadership, self-leadership as well as decision making (Jeremy, 2009). In IBM, all that need to be done is to improve on the leadership roles already present as it is through this that better attainment of goals can be achieved. In the contemporary leadership situations, a number of issues pose as threats to effective leadership. To start with, all CIO's are faced with the challenge of possessing interpersonal skills that form a right profile for effective performance. Secondly, the business environment in which these leaders operate are very complex and prone to drastic change. These leaders have to be wary of these challenges and respond to them promptly in order to remain afloat. Another challenge that these leaders face is level of IT maturity and function. Thus these leaders need to know the exact level of all these factors for them to perform effectively. The recommendation here is for these leaders to embrace the rightful measures that facilitate their effective performance.

Power and politics in IBM

In IBM, power is very effective in influencing outcomes. This is generally done through employment of predictive models as well as relevant business rules to be adhered to by every member of the organization. Through power, recommended actions are stipulated and maintained at all times. The leadership team can be seen as highly depending on power in order to realize performance (Padmakumar & Gantasala, 2010). Thus the team should take advantage of power and carefully apply it in arriving at set objectives. Closely related to power is organizational politics. In IBM, politics is very instrumental. Some of the roles include the maintenance of conducive environment for the maintenance of ethical environment, the coordination of international relations due to the existence of overseas branches.  As such, the leaders are aware of the organizational politics and their relevance. For instance, leaders tend to aim at empire building to gather support of their decisions. By so doing the decision made are able to be attained without much effort from the leaders. In response to the political behavior in IBM, members respond by seeking to be loyal to their leaders are they possess power which they can use to reward or punish them. Thus a sense of fear and loyalty is created.  

Ethical issues are prevalent in all organizations. In IBM, ethical issues range from production of substandard products to the conduct of the members. For instance, it is committed to lawful conduct as well as principles of business ethics. IBM highly values business integrity and thus demand from employees to act ethically. IBM strictly and promptly discloses any violation of laws on procurement to shun corrupt deals. Through use of systems thinking various conflicts can be identified. For instance, through the use of the thinking, it can be diagnosed that there is a probability that some government officials may be intending to use the loopholes created in the bureaucracies of procurement process to entertain corruption. In order for systems thinking to work, an analysis of situations is carried out and proper course of action determined. In this case, logical, competent as well as timely decisions are made (Moulton, 2006). This requires proper judgment and balanced consideration on the available information and facts. Creative situations rather than obvious situations are explored. There is need for application of research methodologies and connection to arrive at the final outcome. From the findings it is recommended that IBM needs to seal all the loopholes that may facilitate perpetuation of corruption by conducting business in the open besides tarnishing and dismissing corrupt employees.

Due to the existence of several branches around the world, IBM does not have single, clearly defined and universally accepted culture. This is due to the variables in regional, national, cultural as well as linguistic and religious backgrounds (Cabrera & Bonache, 1999) Based on the culture of the mother country, IBM prides on risk taking and innovation, detail to attention, orientation to outcome, orientation to people and to team, aggressiveness towards achievement and stability. The members of the organization learn the culture as all pursue to know the right way to perform. As such, they need to embrace all the values upheld in the organization for them to be effective. An organization that holds such values as IBM obviously has a positive culture. This culture is very effective in the realization of organizational goals as it forms the guiding principles. Recommendations on culture here are that it should be in such a manner that all members are able to learn it without much struggle and keep it at all times. Thus it should not only be written but more importantly seen to be done (Hellriegel, & Slocum, 2007).

Employees' attitudes and behavior in IBM are highly shaped by HR practices (Abeyta, 2006). In the contexts of IBM, two essential factors are put into consideration in regard to HR practices. Firstly, IBM seeks to develop a culture that strongly can support its competitive strategy. Secondly, IBM stresses that if competition is based on knowledge, employee management is the best way to gain an edge over competitors. Thus IBM espouses these factors as being imperative for its competitive advantage. These have a very positive influence on IBM as employees feel valued thus perform to their very best. Performance evaluation in IBM is based innovative practices aimed at creating sustaining and lasting improvement on the operational and financial performance. Thus there is a creation of a more adaptive, lean as well as ethical process of evaluation. This can be said to be the best form ever and one which IBM can continually experience growth. This can improve performance as employees will feel that they are fairly evaluated and thus put the best foot forward.

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