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Showing 1-10 of 76 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 207 reviews
on July 18, 2015
Though written more than a decade ago, this is hands-down one of the best business books on the planet and is relevant to leaders of both large and small organizations.

Here is how Lou Gerstner (LG) Saved IBM:

1. Overarching strategy: At the time LG arrived, IBM was proprietary hardware- (mainframe) and software-led. However, an explosion of niche competitors were undercutting IBM’s pricing in its most profitable segments. The prior leadership and Board of Directors were planning to break the company up to make it more nimble, but LG chose instead to tightly integrate the company by making it the services-led, network-centric, open-source, integrator of choice.

2. Product breadth: When LG arrived, IBM tried to be all things to all people. LG divested underperforming areas (ex: most application software) and focused on leading/emerging areas (ex: middleware).

3. Customer focus: When LG arrived, IBM pushed product to serve IBM’s financial interest. LG shifted to serving customers’ interests and business processes.

4. Culture: IBM was founded on strong values including: hard work, decent working conditions, fairness, honesty, respect, impeccable customer service, jobs for life. However, when LG arrived, many of these had been taken to the extreme with an obsession for perfection. In addition, morale was in the dumps and employees felt defeated. LG revitalized many attributes and removed the promise of jobs-for-life.

5. Organization: At the time LG arrived, IBM was controlled by autonomous geographic (country) leaders who presided from on-high by organizing work and delegating problem solving. LG centralized strategic planning, budgeting, marketing, competitive analysis, and sales operations. LG shifted to global industry team leaders who engaged in problem solving and dug into details by constantly meeting with customers, suppliers, and employees. He retained decentralized decision making for innovation (once funded) and for engagement of customers, suppliers, and business partners.

6. Business performance measurement: When LG arrived, IBM was overly focused on the income statement. LG shifted the focus to shareholder value creation by means of increasing free-cash-flow and improving customer satisfaction.

7. Cost structure: Prior to LG’s arrive, IBM had made a series of modest cuts to protect its people and its income statement. LG decided to right-size quickly and completely to become best-in-class based on competitive benchmarks.

8. Execution: When LG arrived, IBM was have on strategy and contemplation. LG called for bold, precise action plans deeply inspected month by month.

9. Collaboration: When LG arrived, IBM was rampant with in-fighting; businesses would even bid against each other for customer orders. LG fostered collaboration through strategy and organization as well as identifying shared outside enemies.

10. Leadership development: When LG arrived, high-potential leaders learned by watching. LG ensured they learned by doing. He maintained IBM’s strong practice of promoting experienced leaders from within.

11. Compensation: When LG arrived, compensation was based on tenured entitlement with little stock-ownership and little pay variation for top- and bottom-performers. LG switched to a performance-based meritocracy and aligned incentives with the core strategy and desired culture.

12. Mergers, acquisitions, and alliances: When LG arrived, IBM acquired and partnered with a bewildering number of companies for purposes of diversification. LG limited activity to focus on acceleration of the core strategy.

13. Branding & Advertising: When LG arrived, IBM had a fractured and stogy brand image. LG centralized marketing and focused the company’s considerable resources on defining e-business.

14. Technical Excellence: LG retained IBM’s commitment to technical excellence.
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on April 15, 2014
This book ilustrates in a direct and clear style, from inside, how the top global executives perform in the real life. It ilustrates how to play the real game in global business, changing the game rules, and leading a reingeneering process, which before this was an unclear concept. It shows how all the academic and theoretical tools learned in the top business schools are still valid and useful. I guess, this is one of the "must read" books for junior level executives who aspire to become global leaders, not only in technology but also in services.
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on June 14, 2010
Gerstner's book about saving one of America's most important companies (IBM) from bankruptcy is interesting and a real page turner. IBM knew what was wrong after the PC became popular and mainframe computers lost much of their appeal, and had file drawers full of strategy documents on how to fix the situation, many of which would have worked, but IBM's top executives just could not change the company. Gerstner's insight was that IBM was its own worst enemy. Discovering what the single critical factor was in changing IBM and how Gerstner fixed it is worth many times the price of this book. However, two of Gerstner's conclusions are also worth reading: (1) He succeeded because of education, hard work, and self-help; and IBM succeeded not because of veniality, but because it found out what its customers and potential customers wanted and needed and supplied those needs and wants at a price the customers could afford. Life is fair and the world makes sense after all.
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on November 24, 2013
Great history of the turn around of IBM and the transformation of it's business model. Really interesting to look at the strategy that was applied in not breaking the company up but leveraging off it's strengths and re-aligning the organization. The EBO was an excellent strategy of innovation to focus on the products and services (like IBM Global Services) that moved the company to a technology, software and services company and turned around the revenue and profit streams to move the company from the brink of bankruptcy to again e a formable giant of the tech industry.
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on March 26, 2014
This is one of the best business books I have read, and there have been many. The story telling style of Lou Gerstner is very easy to follow, makes an interesting read, and really gives a good insight to what was happening at IBM and the way he turned the company around. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in business transformation in general, and particularly if you have interest in the technology industry.
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on January 11, 2012
The book starts with IBM in state in 1993 and how it IBM emerged like a phoenix.

The book is candid on the facts. It provides principles how one can improve work life, with practical examples. . My favorite quote in this book "there is an opportunity to learn in everything we do".

Whatever mentioned is true, I see this now in lot of IT companies. Many of them perish after couple of years. This book provides, with example how to over come.

If we read the book, we can same thing HP is trying to do, but too late in the game.

I am waiting for the continuation of the book from Sam Palmisano.
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on October 8, 2016
I read this a year or so after joining IBM and this was an interesting account of (relatively) recent history of transformation inside IBM.
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on August 10, 2015
You know what's cool? Since 1993 I had the profile BusinessWeek did on Mr. Gerstner, when I bought the book I re-read it and was spooked by how things turned out...

Link here:

Now both are side by side In my shelf. A great book.
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on February 7, 2014
This is a very interesting book on not just the rebuilding of IBM, but the philosophy of a business leader from the stand point of Mr. Gerstner.

I enjoyed reading about the rebuilding of IBM, but the learning on what or how to be a leader, was more interesting
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on September 14, 2011
On the one hand, I thought this was an excellent book. On the other, I feel that Louis cheated the reader and himself by not sharing more about his decision making skills. I found that the most important part of this book was the last third "Lessons Learned." It is there that he shared some insight, but again, superficially. He is either one that plays things very close to the vest or has actually made important decisions. In either case, he did not share his insights as well as other books by executives."
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