Great Lakes Geek Book Review

Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance?
Inside IBM’s Historic Turnaround

by Louis V. Gerstner, Jr.

Lou Gerstner was Chariman and CEO of IBM from 1993-2002. Before that he was CEO of RJR Nabsico and President of American Express.

But this book is not an autobiography or memoir. It is a look at those specific years at IBM. Gerstner explains why decisions were made and takes credit for much of the success of IBM in that period.

Probably the major decision of his tenure was to keep IBM whole. Instead of breaking the company up into smaller autonomous business units, as expected, Gerstner chose to keep it together.

When the press asked him what his vision for the company was he responded, “The last thing IBM needs right now is a vision.”

There is a brief look at the history of IBM and he rightfully likens the IBM System 360 as the Microsoft Windows of the 60’s and beyond. He is clearly not a fan of the personal computer - he sees the PC as merely a temporary part of the tech flow.

Much of the book deals with his management style with quotes such as “People don’t do what you expect but what you inspect.”

I was disappointed that it seemed geared toward MBA students and securing his place in IBM’s history than telling the in depth story of a very interesting time in IBM and the tech world’s history.

Great Lakes Geek Rating: 2.25 out of 5 pocket protectors.

Reviewed by Entreprenerd Dan Hanson, the Great Lakes Geek

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