With 320,000 employees scattered across six continents, IBM is one of the world’s largest businesses. For the company’s 30,000 managers, it can also be a confusing place. The shift to an increasingly mobile workforce means that many managers supervise employees they rarely see face-to-face. Some joke that IBM now stands for “I’m By Myself.” To address these issues, Samuel Palmisano, IBM’s new CEO, launched one of his first big initiatives: a two-year program exploring the role of the manager in the 21st century. The project’s first event was “Manager Jam,” a 48-hour real-time Web event in which managers from 50 different countries swapped ideas for dealing with problems shared by all of them, regardless of geography. Some 8,100 managers logged on to the company’s intranet to participate in discussion forums. John Rooney, head of a development team in Cambridge, Massachusetts, says he got some great suggestions on fostering innovation from managers in India and the Asia Pacific region. “This was a really nice global water cooler,” Rooney says.