Lou Gerstner, Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance (2002)
The American Gerstner (pictured right) was IBM's chief executive 1993- 2002 and transformed its
The book describes how he did it.
How Gerstner transformed IBM’s profits
1. “Maniacal” customer focus
Creating a customer obsessed corporate culture.
Gerstner was successful at IBM because of his:
This came from his
Daily contact with:
Making difficult decisions like axing thousands of jobs.
- winning people’s respect.
e) strategy implementation
Successfully implementing a new customer focused strategy based on selling customer
services (see point 3).
3. Making change happen
IBM’s new strategy was effectively put into action through:
Clear communication of the strategy.
Motivating people through:
- high performance standards (for teams and individuals).
- responsibility for results.
Creating urgency was made easier by IBM’s financial crisis in 1993 when Gerstner took over.
d) valuing key people
Gerstner particularly valued IBM’s research staff, because technological expertise was its
main advantage over competitors.
Key quote on corporate culture
Culture isn’t just one aspect of the game – it is the game.
Key quote on strategy
Execution is really the critical part of a successful strategy.
Key quote on leadership
Execution – getting the task done, making it happen – is the most unappreciated skill of an effective business