In 2012, Phil was asked to rejuvenate the legendary IBM design program, spearheading a broader transformation of how the company’s teams understand and solve complex problems. The program has established a modern standard for the role of the arts in business — adding formally-trained designers into IBM at an unprecedented scale, and reskilling its global workforce in design thinking and agile practices. This transformation has been documented in the New York Times, Fortune and in the documentary film "The Loop.” During this time, Phil also served as co-chair of the global Women’s Executive Council, and established the Racial Equity in Design team. Both roles reflect Phil’s advocacy for greater diversity in order to better inform systemic decision making and empathy, resulting in greater innovation and results.
For this work, in 2018 Phil was inducted into the New York Foundation for the Arts' Hall of Fame. In 2019, Governor Kevin Stitt named Phil an Oklahoma Creativity Ambassador for his achievements in the world of creative thinking and innovation.
Phil retired from full-time operational responsibilities in 2021, and is focusing on helping the next generation of business and military leaders, and start-up entrepreneurs understand the benefits of design on leadership and team performance. Phil’s career includes 30 years as a start-up entrepreneur, and he speaks regularly on topics of corporate culture and large scale transformation. He graduated as a Pe-et (top ten) senior from the University of Oklahoma in 1978 and lives in Austin, Texas.
You can find Phil on Twitter @philgilbertsr.
Documentary on the IBM Design Program produced by InVision.
The documentary dissects how IBM was able to achieve global transformation of their workforce, using design as the lever.
Phil joined podcast hosts Bobby Ghoshal and Jared Erondu.
"A lot of wisdom shared from Phil. I felt that I was able to grasp a better understanding of not only how IBM uses design for the greater good of their company, but how design can be used in virtually any company, anywhere!"
Over the course of a lively Change Lab conversation (conducted in IBM’s employee programmed radio station) Phil opened up about his appreciation for the school busing program in Oklahoma City that first exposed him to the value in a diverse learning environment, his evolution as a leader and the importance of seeing every day as a prototype that can be improved upon.
IBM's design thinking practice is a key to their 21st century innovation plans. Fortune explores what's happening.
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