De samenhang op zingevingsniveau van IBM

Door: Roel Wagter

In mijn rol als copromotor en gastdocent aan de Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen begeleid ik via de Faculteit der Natuurwetenschappen, Wiskunde en Informatica jaarlijks een aantal studenten. Na mijn college over ‘sturen op samenhang’ ontvangen de betreffende studenten de opdracht om naar keuze een jaarverslag van een onderneming te downloaden en de samenhang op zingevingsniveau van deze onderneming te onderzoeken en te waarderen. Voor alle duidelijkheid, het betreft hier tussentijdse studieresultaten in de vorm van een op te leveren paper. De komende tijd zal ik, overigens met toestemming van de betreffende studenten en de universiteit een aantal van deze papers publiceren. Dit doe ik in de hoop opdat velen deze exercitie zullen navolgen. Immers een goed niveau van samenhang is randvoorwaardelijk voor een hoog reactievermogen, hoge aanpasbaarheid en het bereiken van de beoogde performance. En het sturen op samenhang begint met het sturen op samenhang op zingevingsniveau. Te weten de samenhang tussen de missie, visie, kernwaarden, doelen en strategie. Voor een ieder die meer wil weten over ‘sturen op samenhang’ zie ons laatstelijk gepubliceerde boek.

De onderzoeksopdracht

De onderzoeksopdracht zoals omschreven in de inleiding heeft bij student Ton Kunnen er toe geleid de samenhang op zingevingsniveau van IBM te onderzoeken.

In deze blog geef ik onderstaand alleen het abstract en de intro van zijn paper weer en verwijs graag naar de versie van het volledige paper.

Abstract and Intro van: Coherence in Big IT, Analysing and quantifying IBM’s coherence based on their 2020 yearly report ( Ton Kunnen, November 2021).


Enterprise coherence refers to how relevant aspects of an enterprise are connected. It is an important component of Enterprise Architecture and has an influence on performance, but is often considered hard to quantify. By employing an adjusted version of the GEA-c index on the IBM 2020 yearly report, we acquired a more quantitative view of the company. This resulted in a score of 70 points out of a possible 124 points.


Within an organization, there is a multitude of factors which tend to influence overall performance; state of the market, product quality, personnel quality etc. However, one factor that tends to be more understated is that of coherence. Coherence – Enterprise Coherence in specific – refers to how the relevant aspects of an enterprise are connected, to ensure that these connections assist in meeting the desired results of the organization. The focus on coherence is part of a larger intent for corporations to be able to transform themselves, so they are better aligned with the current market and their environment. This is where the importance of coherence comes in; the transformations the organizations make on all levels need to be properly aligned with the overall purpose of the organization. When a corporation can build a holistic approach to address their key decision, they’ll be more capable of making fast transformations and keeping up with the market. A general hypothesis is that there is a positive correlation in organizations between their level of coherence and their level of performance[1] . Despite its obvious importance within organizations, coherence was – and is – not always as well defined within organizations as one might expect, often leading to reduced performance and strategic failures[2] . However, with the globalization of trade and the growth of IT, organisations have been forced to adjust and take a closer look at their coherence. The issue is that coherence is considered dynamic and requires upkeep, leading to many enterprise transformations failing[3] . In this report, we will be discussing and quantifying the coherence of tech corporation IBM, based on their yearly report for 2020[4] . We will introduce concepts like ECF and GEA-c, and take a detailed look at what components of coherence are relevant in this report. This leads to the research question: “How quantifiably coherent is IBM based on their 2020 yearly report?”


[1] Leinwand, P., & Mainardi, C. (2010). The Essential Advantage ([edition missing]). Harvard Business Review Press. Retrieved from (Original work published 2010)

[2] Dietz J.L.G., Hoogervorst J.A.P. (2014) The Unifying Role of Enterprise Engineering. In: Magalhàes R. (eds) Organization Design and Engineering. Palgrave Macmillan, London

[3] Wagter, R. (2013). Enterprise coherence governance. ‘s-Hertogenbosch: BOXPress.

[4] IBM. (2021). IBM Annual Report 2020.

[5] Bekel, J., & Wagter, R. (2020, June). Measurement Of Enterprise Coherence By Means Of The Gea C-Index-A First Investigation. In 2020 IEEE 22nd Conference on Business Informatics (CBI) (Vol. 2, pp. 57-64). IEEE.

[6] Anderson, M. R. (2017, 11 mei). Twenty years on from Deep Blue vs Kasparov: how a chess match started the big data revolution. The Conversation. Retrieved at November 3 th 2021, van

 [7] Parker, G. (2012, 10 november). Lessons from IBM’s near-implosion in the mid-1990s. Quartz. Retrieved at, van

 [8] Alexander, D. (2019, 9 juli). Be open and change the world. Good Tech IBM. November 3th 2021, van

[9] IBM Completes the Separation of Kyndryl. (2021, 3 november). IBM Newsroom. November 3th 2021, van

[10] Unilever. (2021). Unilever 2020 Annual Report And Accounts.