Storage Area Networks (SAN)

#QuarantineCooking, Playlists and the Network Effect

By Tony Pearson posted Sat June 27, 2020 08:30 AM

  
Inside System Storage with Tony Pearson

Last April, while most of the world was in COVID-19 lockdown, someone at IBM started a [chain letter] to raise morale among IBM employees.

The concept was simple enough, instead of sending money in a pyramid scheme, you send a food recipe, with the hashtag #QuarantineCooking. When I received "Letter 1" below, I sent a recipe to person A, then sent out "Letter 2" to 20 people on my distribution list. Each of those 20 would send a recipe to Person B, and send out "Letter 3" to 20 of their colleagues, listing me a the top.

If everyone participated, I could get 400 recipes! IBM operates in over 170 countries, so this was a great way to have a "cultural exchange" with co-workers I may not otherwise work with.

Letter 1 Letter 2 Letter 3
Dear IBMer, Please send a recipe to person listed #1 below, and send out 20 letters moving #2 up to #1 and adding your name at bottom of list.
1. Person A
2. Person B
Dear IBMer, Please send a recipe to person listed #1 below, and send out 20 letters moving #2 up to #1 and adding your name at bottom of list.
1. Person B
2. Tony Pearson
Dear IBMer, Please send a recipe to person listed #1 below, and send out 20 letters moving #2 up to #1 and adding your name at bottom of list.
1. Tony Pearson
2. Person C

I actually got "Letter 1" four times, so I sent out four recipes, and sent "Letter 2" to four distinct groups of 20 people, for a total of 80 people receiving from me.

How many recipes did I actually get? SEVEN. Of these, one was from Russia, one from Turkey, and one from Brazil. The rest were from United States.

What could have gone wrong? Most people recognize that a scheme like this is unsustainable, and cannot go on forever, but getting only seven recipes was disappointing.

Instead, I did get a lot of not-so-kind responses that might explain this:

  • "I don't cook!"
  • "Order pizza deliver or get take-out, like everyone else!"
  • "How can you think of food during a world-wide crisis like this?"
  • "Go to the internet and find a recipe there!"
  • "I already got this letter from someone else, you can't expect me to do this again!"
  • "This letter is unprofessional! This has nothing to do with IBM business!"

I get it. People were frustrated with lots of time on their hands to reflect on the problems the world was facing. Nearly 98 percent of IBMers were working from home that month, compared to 40 percent normally working from home a few days per week.

But seriously, how hard is it to send a recipe? Even if you can't think of one from memory, there are thousands on the internet. You can pick a food you personally like and send it on. The whole process takes only a few minutes.

Then, last month in May, to help our new CEO Arvind Krishna get a feel for the company mood, IBM held one of its famous [Innovation Jam] sessions for all IBM employees. This one was called the "Think Forward Jam 2020". Typical questions were:

  • How can IBM improve the way we engage with clients, enhancing the client's experience?
  • What innovations can IBM make that can help the world through COVID-19 era?
  • What are some new ways IBMers can work together, building on trust and personal relationships?
  • How can IBM run operations more efficiently?

About 34,000 employees participated, which is 10 percent of the company. For 72 hours, people could respond to these questions, and pose new and more specific questions of their own, in a huge chat session. More than 250,000 entries were posted.

It was a huge boost in employee morale to know that our new CEO is interested in our thoughts and ideas!

On the last day, someone posed the question: "What songs should I add to my playlist to help me through COVID-19?" He got over 400 songs submitted! I couldn't get 400 recipes using a chain letter across several weeks, but this guy gets 400 songs in one day?

One explanation is what Network and SAN Administrators call [the Network Effect]. The more you have connected together at the same time, the more value you get from that network.

This is a difficult time for all of us. A pandemic, economic problems, and rising unemployment are being faced in many parts of the world. Now is a time to be kind, to be patient, and to be understanding.

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