Saturday, December 10, 2016

Who Says Elephants Cant Dance?: Leading a Great Enterprise through Dramatic Change

Gerstner quarterbacked one of historys most dramatic corporate turnarounds. For those who follow business stories like football games, his tale of the rise, fall and rise of IBM might be the ultimate slow-motion replay. He became IBMs CEO in 1993, when the gargantuan company was near collapse. The books opening section snappily reports Gerstners decisions in his first 18 months on the job-the critical sprint that moved IBM away from the brink of destruction. The following sections describe the marathon fight to make IBM once again a company that mattered. Gerstner writes most vividly about the companys culture. On his arrival, there was a kind of hothouse quality to the place. It was like an isolated tropical ecosystem that had been cut off from the world for too long. As a result, it had spawned some fairly exotic life-forms that were to be found nowhere else. One of Gerstners first tasks was to redirect the companys attention to the outside world, where a marketplace was quickly changing and customers felt largely ignored. He succeeded mightily. Upon his retirement this year, IBM was undeniably a company that mattered. Gerstners writing occasionally is myopic. For example, he makes much of his own openness to input from all levels of the company, only to mock an earnest (and overlong) employee e-mail (reprinted in its entirety) that was critical of his performance. Also, he includes a bafflingly long and dull appendix of his collected communications to IBM employees. Still, the book is a well-rendered self-portrait of a CEO who made spectacular change on the strength of personal leadership. Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the  edition.

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