Beyond fragmenting Sears into a series of warring tribes, as described by Bloomberg Businessweek’s Mina Kimes, Chairman and CEO Eddie Lampert also pushed the company’s IT department to create an internal social network called “Pebble,” which he joined under the pseudonym “Eli Wexler.”
His goal was to engage with employees and get an inside look at what was going on in the company. The reality got a bit weird.
“It quickly became clear that Eli Wexler was a little too engaged on Pebble,” Kimes writes. “He left critical comments on other people’s posts, according to more than 20 former employees; he even got into arguments with store associates.”
Not surprisingly, Sears employees were not excited about using Pebble and did so mostly to satisfy their bosses, according to Kimes.
Internal social networks are popular enough that Microsoft bought Yammer (which produces a popular set of such tools) for $1.2 billion. A researcher at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Business found that such networks significantly improve people’s ability to find information within a company. But since the success of these tools depends on people voluntarily giving good information, anonymous snooping by authority figures kills any benefit.
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