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Who Says Elephants Can't Dance?: Leading a Great Enterprise through Dramatic Change Paperback – December 16, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
“A well-rendered self-portrait of a CEO who made spectacular change on the strength of personal leadership.” (Publishers Weekly)
“Effective, to the point...Louis V. Gerstner Jr deserves his place in the management hall of fame.” (Financial Times)
“The best business book I’ve ever read.” (Imus in the Morning)
“[Lou Gerstner] has the substance of a genuine and ... interesting story.” (Wall Street Journal)
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Top Customer Reviews
Gerstner took over the failing, almost bankrupt, company and both re-made its startegy and culture, re-focusing it on customer needs and re-engineering it (i.e. laying off an awful lot of people). In this book, he tells the outlines of how he did it, which is indeed extremely interesting. In particular, he stresses that while a strategy is needed, implementation of it is far more important.
Unfortunately, he does not go into enough detail for the reader to fully understand what he faced and how he did it. Neither the technology nor the brutal methods he had to employ were adequately addressed, at least for me. I read it carefully and did not feel I had had quite the full meal I expected. The reader also gets virtually no insight into what makes Gerstner tick, other than that he "wants to win" with passion. THe book was also entirely written by Gerstner; his style is competent, if somewhat like a business memo: good analyses are "actionable" and effective actions are "impactful."
Nonetheless, this is a very good primer on basic strategy and organizational behavior. He has lots of valuable advice to give and pinpoints many important issues. I will keep it and return to it.
THere were some things that I found questionable and surprising, if also unintentionally revealing.Read more ›
Who says an arrogant guy can't write a helpful book?
There are a lot of people who don't like this book. Some don't like it, because they perceive Lewis V. Gerstner as arrogant. Some don't like it, because his tenure at IBM saw thousands of people lose their jobs. Some don't like it, because they don't think there is anything new here. I like this book.
I like the book, because it is one of the most cogently and personally presented stories I've seen of a major corporate turnaround by the person who was in the CEO's job at the time. Here's a quick outline of the story.
Gerstner became Chairman and CEO of IBM in April, 1993. At that time, IBM, once the icon of American management, was in big trouble. The deathwatch was on. The conventional wisdom among the pundits was that IBM needed to be broken up and sold off piece by piece to create lots of small businesses that would create income for shareholders.
This was the heyday of the dot com boom. Smaller, networked computers were expected to rule the future. Big mainframe computers, the stuff that IBM sold, were supposed to be the troglodytes of American business, and heading for extinction.
Gerstner came to IBM after being a McKinsey consultant and after a successful eleven-year career at American Express, and four years as Chairman and CEO of RJR Nabisco. He describes what he calls "the courtship" that brought him to IBM in the beginning of this book.
The company he took over was once seen as the very model of the best in management. When I was starting out in business some thirty-five years ago, we looked to IBM as an exemplar of all that was good, effective and profitable.Read more ›
As a former IBM executive who took early retirement twenty years ago, just as the company's bureaucracy was beginning to strangle the organization, I was fascinated to learn how that bureaucracy spread and the extremes to which it went, creating a culture thst led to decisions (if any) by committee, conspiratorial compromise, and self-protective behavior. This is not the IBM I had known. Even more interesting is the rapidity with which Louis Gerstner diagnosed the sickness of the company and the speed and persistence with which he administered tough medicine.
Despite IBM's near-terminal condition Gerstner saw it correctly not only as a business enterprise but as a "national treasure" that was well worth the collossal efforts needed to restore it.
Unlike Jack Welch's adolescent "Jack: Straight from the Gut", this book focuses on the processes of leadership and management, strategic choice, and the decision process. But it speaks also to the essential importance of corporate culture, at IBM a way of life that is based on values rather than just on being first.
As a recovering IBMer I salute Mr. Gerstner for his remarkable achievements and as a reader applaud him for this exceptional contribution to the business book genre.
Don't miss it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great presentation which shows how the author recovered bleeding IBM late 20th.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
In 1990, IBM was the second most profitable company in the world, with net income of $6 billion on sales of $69 billion. But all was not well. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Loyd Eskildson
I read this book as part of my Army War College studies and highly recommend it. a good read!Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
Mr. Gerstner's book is tremendously insightful. Learning the details of IBM's dire situation and how they turned the company around was fascinating.Published 10 months ago by Mark Dowd
Very easy to read and understand. I would suggest this as starting point for leaders to compare their strategy and results with the author's.Published 10 months ago by Paula Martinez
Great book if you want to learn about how IBM came back to life in the late 90's.Published 11 months ago by Donald E. Harvey