Thursday 2012-03-22

Who Says Elephants Can't Dance by Lou Gerstner, Jr.

Gerstner started off by taking IBM through the proverbial Big Bath, exaggerating losses and selling off assets. Apparently he negotiated for a bunch of IBM stock initially, and argued for more ownership in the company; i.e. senior executives are expected to hold several years of income worth of IBM stock in order to help align incentives.

In return, Gerstner ramped up IBM services, which played to his decade at McKinsey. And dealt with IBM politics, which probably accounted for the bulk of what they had to pay him.

"When you see your competitor drowning, grab a fire hose and put it in his mouth."
-- Ray Kroc, Grabbing Hold
"We have no alcohol on IBM airplanes. It is prohibited to serve alcohol."
I said, "Can you think of anyone who could change that rule?"
-- Grabbing Hold
You couldn't walk into a major city in the United States that did not have a large IBM tower.... We sold 8,000 acres of undeveloped land. We sold first-class real estate that we didn't need, like the tallest building in Atlanta... Over the prior decade, IBM had amassed a large and important fine-art collection... In 1995 the bulk of it was sold at auction at Sotheby's for $31 million.
-- Grabbing Hold
( selling stuff during a recession... )
no credit can be given for predicting rain -- only for building arks.
-- Lessons Learned
The media like forecasts, predictions, and promises. If you spend a lot of time on camera, you are likely to succumb to the temptation to overpromise.
-- Observations