Each year, a few hundred IBMers get accepted into the CSC program. Once accepted, we wait patiently to get staffed on an assignment, sometimes waiting as long as a year. Luckily I only had to wait 7 months to hear what team and what country I’d be going to. Upon receiving that first email with my assignment, I started looking up all 14 of my new teammates.
The CSC has had several years to perfect the process of bringing strangers together who only share a common employer, IBM, to become a team. Under the trusted guidance of a past CSC Africa participant, Inna, we started weekly teleconference calls on Tuesdays at 7 am that would last for 12 weeks. For those that know me well, they’ll know that I am not at my best early in the morning (that’s an understatement), but I had no room to complain as it was 6 am for my Texas and Minneapolis teammates, 5 am for Paola in Costa Rica and 9 pm for Chandra in Australia.
The first month was mainly ice breakers. It has been years since I’ve done ‘ice breakers’, but turns out I learned a lot. We buddied up with another teammate and had to learn about them in order to present them to the team at large — part of my profile is below.
We also had to take a cultural assessment for our personal work styles and if they match up with the country we’ll be working in and with the rest of the team. There were 9 categories and I’ve provided a snapshot of 2 – I’m the black square and South Africa is the red square with all the other colors being my teammates. My direct / simple thinking / task-based way of working will apparently not be well-received in South Africa, based on how far apart the red and black squares are. It’s good to know what I’ll need to be aware of and work on to gel with the clients.
Once in country, we will do a cultural exchange where we present our home country / region and give a small token that represents us to each teammate. I’m really looking forward to that, although am still a bit stumped on what to bring for Ohio / Cleveland / the Midwest. Any ideas??
The 14 names that seemed so distant a few months back are now identifiable by voice and have moved from strangers to colleagues. I can’t even imagine what these relationships will be like after living with them for a month, but am excited for the possibilities!