From Library Journal
In recounting the history of the Silverlake Project and the development of the AS/400 computer, the authors, who were involved in the project, make a credible start at examining the problems that Big Blue encountered in staying with a "product-driven enterprise." They describe how an IBM design lab in the "wilds of Rochester" suddenly rediscovered the "market-driven" approach (listen to your consumers) as the key to IBM's salvation. Not to be disrespectful, but did the heavens suddenly open up and pour forth this wisdom? Or have the people at IBM been reborn ? The book has some valid arguments for studying what's wrong with a sinking business, but maybe it's too late for the Big Blue Machine (this idea was begun in 1988, four years ago, before the layoffs of thousands of workers). While titles such as this one are needed, at $24.95, it's not a steal, it's highway robbery. Pass on this.- V.A. Munch, Montville Twp . P.L., N.J.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
An insiders' exuberant, albeit candid, account of how a backwater outpost in IBM's empire managed to overcome its shortcomings and produce a new family of computers that not only proved a bestseller but also earned its creators a prestigious Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award. Bauer and his associates were all involved in the Silverlake Project, a crash program undertaken in the mid-1980's by Big Blue's Rochester, Minn., unit to retrieve its flagging fortunes in mid- range systems--a protean category encompassing machines whose price tags run from $15,000 to $1 million apiece. At the outset, according to the authors, the outlook was bleak, mainly because IBM Rochester had lost touch with its prospects as well as customers and was turning out hardware designed to please in-house engineers. By applying a ten-point set of operating principles, however, the facility was able to build and introduce the AS/400 series in just 28 months (against a normal cycle of five or more years). Among other valuable insights gained from the project, the authors cite visionary leadership, empowerment of employees, and close working relationships with buyers. By their account, error-free design, market research, and realistic priorities are also musts if schedules are to be met and goals achieved. IBM Rochester clearly did a lot of things right, since AS/400 revenues alone would make it the world's second largest computer enterprise (trailing only the parent organization). Whether the lessons to be learned from the Silverlake Project are applicable to other concerns lacking Big Blue's researchers is an open question. There's real interest, though, in the possibility that Rochester could serve as a paradigm for the restructuring to which IBM publicly committed itself last November. (Two dozen line- cuts.) -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.