Saving Big Blue: Leadership Lessons & Turnaround Tactics of IBM's Lou Gerstner

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9780071342117: Saving Big Blue: Leadership Lessons & Turnaround Tactics of IBM's Lou Gerstner

In this honest, inside look at one of the world's most inspiring corporate success stories, bestselling business author Robert Slater reveals how Gerstner stressed service, catapulted IBM into the Internet revolution, and restored IBM's mantle of leadership. Starting each chapter with a success maxim -- as in his bestselling Jack Welch and the GE Way -- Slater provides nothing less than the roadmap for achieving success in today's turbulent corporate world.

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Review:

From the early 1950s into the late '80s, IBM was the computer industry. Not only that, IBM was, to many, industry itself. It consistently set the standard for corporate performance and profitability, both in the U.S. and worldwide. But that all changed in a strange, swift, and brutal way. IBM--which had fiddled while Microsoft and Intel created a firestorm in the personal-computer world--lost money for three consecutive years in the early '90s. The decision to allow Microsoft to control PC software and Intel to supply the microprocessors (they're both companies IBM could've easily bought out early in the game) came back to bite IBM on its bloated blue butt. And its no-layoffs policy, though admirable, meant the company kept a workforce of more than 300,000, making decisions at a glacial pace while other companies nimbly jumped from one new market to the next.

All that changed when Lou Gerstner was named CEO of IBM in 1993. Gerstner had already led turnarounds at American Express and RJR Nabisco, and, as Saving Big Blue details, he proved to be the right man for the job. Gerstner started by changing the company's funereal dress code and eventually redirected the company to provide computer services rather than just computers. Saving Big Blue makes for interesting reading as a case study, but also provides a blueprint for any manager attempting to turn around a business. --Lou Schuler

From the Back Cover:

Get Inside the Mind of Lou Gerstner - The Maverick CEO Who Seized Control, Defied Sacred Traditions, and Saved IBM. Date: January 19, 1993. IBM announces a stunning $4.97 billion loss for 1992, the largest financial bath in American corporate history. The venerated Big Blue is sinking fast... Date: April 22, 1999. The Wall Street Journal: "International Business Machines Corp. ...blew past estimates to report a 42% earnings gain for the first quarter. An analyst at Merrill Lynch & Co. said the quarter was 'a blowout,' adding that it was 'the best quarter I have seen from IBM' in more than a decade of covering the company." What made the difference? The answer is simple: Lou Gerstner. Saving Big Blue reveals how, with determination and grit, Lou Gerstner saved IBM and cemented his reputation as one of the greatest turnaround CEOs in history. It is the first blow-by-blow account that charts Gerstner's micraclework at IBM and reveals the leadership secrets that underpinned his every step. In these pages you'll learn such key tenets as: "Sweep Aside the Old Corporate Culture If Necessary, But Do It Quickly." Gerstner's focus was absolute. When it came to cleaning house, even his own brother wasn't protected. "Set High Expectations: Don't Settle for Mediocrity." Gerstner couldn't understand, and wouldn't tolerate lackluster performance. He made it clear that he wouldn't accept second best - and that rewards awaited the winners. "Listen to Customers - The Know Best What They Need." Relive the legendary Chantilly meeting, where Gerstner invited the Chief Information Officers of IBM's 200 largest customers to meet with - and confront - the new IBM chief.

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