24 Execution—Strategy Goes Only So Far. 25 Leadership Is Personal. 26 Elephants Can Dance. 27 IBM—a Farewell. Chalk one up for Joe Navarro, a remarkable human being who, in addition to bal behavior in his What Every BODY The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari. Editorial Reviews. From Publishers Weekly. Gerstner quarterbacked one of history's most Who Says Elephants Can't Dance?: Leading a Great Enterprise.
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Lou Gerstner thought the enormous corporate elephant could dance as gracefully as its much smaller competition. He was right. Concentrated Knowledge™ for. Who Says Elephants Can't Dance? Leading a Great Enterprise through Dramatic Change by Louis V. Gerstner. "Very soon, people will be searching not for content, but for experts– not just anyone who has the time to blog or tweet, but people who actually know what.
You create it at the same time you deliver it. The business model is different. The economics are entirely different.
But in every case—hardware, technology, software, even services—all of these capabilities were part of a business model that had fallen wildly out of step with marketplace realities The implications of this kind of leap to a company's economic model can be devastating. In IBM's case it meant the collapse of gross profit margins and the attendant changes we had to engineer to lower our cost structure without compromising our effectiveness.
Yet the hardest part of these decisions was neither the technological nor economic transformations required. It was changing the culture—the mindset and instincts of hundreds of thousands of people who had grown up in an undeniably successful company, but one that had tor decades been immune to normal competitive and economic forces.
The challenge was making that workforce live, compete, and win in the real world. It was like taking a lion raised for all of its life in captivity and suddenly teaching it to survive in the jungle.
But, of course, these kinds of values don't necessarily translate into the same kind of behavior in all companies—how people actually go about their work, how they interact with one another, what motivates them. That's because, as with national cultures. Business schools don't teach you how to do it. You can't lead the revolution from the splendid isolation of corporate headquarters.
You can't simply give a couple of speeches or write a new credo for the company and declare that the new culture has taken hold. You can't mandate it, :an't engineer it. What you can do is create the conditions for transformation.
You can provide incentives. You can define the marketplace realities and goals. But then you have to trust. In fact, in the end, management doesn't change culture. Management invites the workforce itself to change the culture.
There are fundamentals that characterize successful enterprises anc successful executives. They are focused. They are superb at execution. They abound with personal leadership. This comprehensive analysis must then form the basis for specific strategies :hat are translated into day-to-day execution. The best companies in an industry build processes that allow them to outperform their competitors vis-a-vis these success factors.
These leaders will be: Much more able to deal with the relentless, discontinuous change that this technology is creating. Much more global in outlook and practice. Much more able to strike an appropriate balance between the instinct for cultural preservation and the promise of regional or global cooperation.
Much more able to embrace the fact that the world is moving to a model in which the "default" in every endeavor will be openness and integration, not isolation. If I do, I never read them on a Sunday! The fact that Lou does not consider himself a technologist helps. However, the most important leadership trait that exudes is his ability to understand "what drives people". He says, "Pe I don't usually read business books. He says, "People don't do what you expect but what you inspect.
The Appendix elucidating the many letters he wrote to IBMers drives the importance for communication in times of change and otherwise. Excerpt: "Employees in any institution frequently complain and rightly so: " Why do I have to hear news about my company on TV or the radio before I hear it from the company?
However I have always made it a point to make sure our employees hear the news literally seconds later. This book taught me "small things make a big difference! However, I found Gerstner overly self-indulgent. He takes credit for everything! Even though he notes Dennie's importance in the recovery, he phrases it as "I got lucky in meeting Dennie" rather than "Dennie saved the company.
Let's remember th It is nice to think a person can come into a failing giant such as IBM and turn it around with common sense and a gamble or two. Let's remember they were going through a difficult, emotional time, and that they were not necessarily skilled in communications. Gerstner found new uses and users for the card. In , most department stores did not accept American Express cards — by retail sales were second only to airline tickets in card purchases.
College students, physicians, and women were singled out in various marketing pushes.
Corporations were persuaded to adopt the card as a more effective way of tracking business expenses. As sales and profits rebounded, Gerstner was promoted to chairman and chief executive officer of AmEx's Travel Related Services in , and president of the parent company in Although he claimed the position at the age of 43, Gerstner dismissed the speculation that his success was the product of being a workaholic.
Gerstner told Leslie Wayne, "I hear that and I can't accept that. A workaholic can't take vacations and I take four weeks a year. Not only was the division continually the most profitable in the company, it led the entire financial services industry.
Robinson III was not expected to retire for another 12 years. During Gerstner's year tenure at American Express, membership had increased from 8. The company's board had forced his predecessor John Akers to resign, looking first within the computer industry for his successor.
IBM then turned to Gerstner, an outsider with a record that suggested success   whose older brother Richard had run the company's PC division until retiring due to health issues four years earlier.
Upon becoming chief executive of IBM, Gerstner declared: "the last thing IBM needs right now is a vision", as he instead focused on execution, decisiveness, simplifying the organization for speed, and breaking the gridlock. Many expected heads to roll, yet Gerstner initially changed only the CFO, the HR chief, and three key line executives.