Lou Gerstner

Yesterday morning, Lou Gerstner came to speak to SDM for a bit. Prior to the session we received a copy of his book that we were asked to read so that we could ask good questions. Unlike a lot of the cohort, I grabbed some time for reading it (hooray for bus time even if i'd rather be riding). The book was quite good and gave a good account of how he managed to go in and transform IBM. Some of the most interesting thoughts were about the culture of IBM and how that is really the entire game but also that changing culture is not easy. Rather than having him stand up and give us a canned speech, he instead took questions and gave us very honest answers – he seemed like an extremely straight shooter in that respect.

The question (or answer really) that struck me the most was one about IBM's handling of the pc in the 80s. While he wasn't there at the time, he definitely seemed to think it was a bit of a missed oppurtunity. More interesting still was his opinion on how open standards continue to win out over proprietary ones and that he sees this happening in software as well, although it may take another 40 years to be fully realized. He also made some thinly veiled comments against a certain monopolistic software company ;).

All in all a very interesting session… I probably should have taken some notes to have more to write about, but so it goes.

4 thoughts on “Lou Gerstner”

  1. The book was worth reading both from the “it’s a compelling, well-told story” and from the “here’s some information on being a more effective leader”. Where leader could be a team lead all the way up through CEO.

  2. IBM’s Culture?

    I’m curious as to what he said it was. I worked there partly under Gerstner and his replacement, and I found it to be a very soul sucking bureaucratic place.

  3. Re: IBM’s Culture?

    In the book especially (it came up less yesterday), he went into the amount of bureaucracy present within IBM and how he attempted to reduce that. It was definitely something he saw as a problem, but it’s also the sort of thing that one person can’t change alone.

Comments are closed.