Thomas Watson Jr, A Business and Its Beliefs (1963)
The boss of the American computer company, IBM, from 1956 to 1971, and the son of its founder,
Thomas Watson Sr (1874-1956), pictured right below.
Watson died in 1993.
Jnr in the Business Leaders section.
Reasons for IBM’s success
Its success has been based on the “ingrained understanding” of and “faithful adherence” to three beliefs:
1. Respect for the individual
- above average pay and benefits.
- respect for people’s dignity.
- excellent training and personal development.
- an “Open Door” policy (open communication between management
- job security (if someone is good enough).
But IBM isn’t a “life-time ticket” - unsuitable people are fired, but only after they have
been given every opportunity for self-improvement.
People must be enabled and encouraged to give their best.
2. Give the world’s best customer service
This is achieved through:
- the co-operation of every part of the business.
- hiring the best people (including a brilliant sales force).
Employee satisfaction leads to customer satisfaction and so profit.
At IBM world-class customer service became:
- “one of the company's principal assets”.
- a “reflex” that people automatically carried out.
3. Striving for perfection
This is achieved through:
- constantly changing and striving for improvement.
- “a blend of optimism, enthusiasm, excitement and pace”
- continual learning from mistakes.
Thomas Watson Sr, Watson’s father
and founder of IBM, told his employees:
“It is better to aim at perfection and miss than it is to aim at imperfection and hit it”.
The best ways to overcome resistance to change are:
But don't forget ethics and social
It is the responsibility of top management to ensure that its company is:
A business must be motivated by not only profit (from employee and customer satisfaction – see above) but also
“the well-being of the whole nation”
This means helping America’s defence and its social policies like:
- support for the poor and unemployed.
Key quote on business
I firmly believe that any organization, in order to survive and achieve success, must have a sound set of
beliefs on which it premises all its policies and actions... if an organization is to meet the challenges of a
changing world, it must be prepared to change everything about itself except those beliefs as it moves through
Key quote on human resource management
I believe the real difference between success and failure in a corporation can very often be traced to the
question of how well the organization brings out the great energies and talents of its people.
Key quote on teams
Co-operation must outrank self-interest
Key quote on corporate culture
Beliefs must always come before policies, practices and goals
Key quotes on change
Complacency is the most natural and insidious disease of large corporations
In business, the status quo means inevitable failure.
Key quote on customer satisfaction
The relationship between the man and the customer, their mutual trust, the importance of reputation, the idea of
putting the customer first - always - all these things, if carried out with real conviction by a company, can make
a great deal of difference in its destiny.
Key quote on business ethics
To keep a company ethical and clean is the responsibility of top management