Louis Gerstner… Remember him? The legendary CEO of IBM and I crossed our paths this week when I decided to go through a book titled, Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance?. As chance would have it, it was also the time when I bought my new Lenovo laptop. For all those who have been disconnected from the world, Lenovo is the company that bought IBMs PC business some years ago. After using many renewed brands like Samsung, Dell, HCL, HP and compaq, selecting a new laptop should have been easy. It was, but not because I am more intelligent than 3 years ago. Only because the industry has consolidated a little bit.
Is not it true with you too, that one factor for decision making is price – this holds true for me too. In first few chapters Lou says IBM had to do a price rationalization of its servers. This event of the book brings back memories of class of Prof Tomas Lopez and my long nights cracking the case with my buddies of MBA – Saurabh Deshmukh, Nikunj Pandya, Ashar and Chanchel Menon. How often have you made an opinion and written about a book even before completing it? I have made my opinion the book is very interesting and I am so impressed that I thought to write.
IBM a gigantic and bureaucratic organization of 90s! If you are an Indian and have repeatedly circled tables of Govt offices and babus you would be able to understand what challenges Mr Gerstner must have gone through at IBM in first couple of months of his assignment. Honestly, only a few have to chance to lead such place and change this. However, seeing Indian bureaucratic system I believe there are a lot of opportunities for Indian Gerstners (Govt officers would read this blog). I can relate to IBM of early 90s (reminds me of one series of Asterix in which they have to clear a task of Greek Office). We in India say we are democratic country yet currently we are democratically fighting for Lokpal which is not heard by Govt.
While reading that book I am asking myself – what is the purpose of existence for IBM (of 90s) and of Govt? Don’t you ask similar question to yourself – the purpose of our existence?
Customers were last in the list at IBM (clearly not in the first few on the list) and in India Citizen are not the first priority (alas! it is democracy). Priorities are – Govt/political parties/bureaucracy, at IBM priorities were country heads/department etc. IBM was (not exactly though) out of touch with changes in IT industry Govt seem to have lost touch with masses. IBM was a big fat elephant so seems the Indian Govt system. “One has changed and is dancing now, will the other too?” is the question to ask.
Also, I could relate to the teachings of the Buddha while I am reading the book. More on purpose of our existence and middle path later.