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

August 12, 2006 at 12:52 pm Leave a comment

Louis V. Gerstner Jr. ex-head of IBM corporation tells the story of the biggest turnaround in the corporate history. And while does that, he blows the wonderful opportunity to tell an insightful story. Well, he does warn you in the beginning, detailing his reluctance to write a book (very professional isn;t it 🙂 ).

Let us face it, Louis V. Gerstner Jr. is one of the most successful executives in the history of corporate America. He would always jump through the right hoops all his life. And the fact that success and most successful people are boring, reflects very much in the book. Rather than writing an interesting book, Lou has prepared a drab report of IBM successes over years. Thus, a large part of book is devoted to financial performance figures!!!

He has also included various emails sent to him by employees. He does do a great job in elaborating IBM culture from an outsider’s point of view. I wonder if his long years as a management consultant had any influence in turning IBM into the biggest consulting company on this globe.

Gerstner also could have delineated the business processes that was the foundation of this turnaround, but he does not bother to do so. He never mentions various personalities that played any significant role in IBM during his tenure. If you really want to understand the crux of Lou’s and IBMs achievements from 1995 to 2001, simply read chapter on IBM from Reengineering book by Hammer and Champy (2001 Edition).

If you are a technophiles and looking for interesting tidbits, read “Dealers of lightning” (based on Xerox’s PARC Research Centre).

Kudos to Lou for being such a great leader. I wish I could say the same thing about his writing skills. For someone like me who has been in IT industry for 15 long years, it turned out to be a big let-down. If found myself jumping form chapter to chapter looking for some interesting bit of information.

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