Who Says Elephants Can't Dance?: Leading a Great Enterprise through Dramatic Change

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Harper Collins, Dec 16, 2003 - Business & Economics - 304 pages
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Who Says Elephants Can't Dance? sums up Lou Gerstner's historic business achievement, bringing IBM back from the brink of insolvency to lead the computer business once again.Offering a unique case study drawn from decades of experience at some of America's top companies -- McKinsey, American Express, RJR Nabisco -- Gerstner's insights into management and leadership are applicable to any business, at any level. Ranging from strategy to public relations, from finance to organization, Gerstner reveals the lessons of a lifetime running highly successful companies.

 

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Legendary CEO Louis V. Gerstner Jr. pulled off the turnaround of the century by bringing IBM back from near bankruptcy. He completely remade IBM, a monumental task considering its size, its hallowed traditions and mission, its strong corporate culture, and the remarkable challenges it faced in a rapidly evolving marketplace. He details the steps he took to resurrect IBM and restore its legendary leadership position, and he explains why he chose a bold, risky path to strengthen and unify the iconic company when astute observers believed it had become an irrelevant corporate relic. Gerstner says that even though he wasn’t an author, he decided not to use a ghostwriter. Be glad he stuck with his own voice. getAbstract finds that he has written a superior business book: analytical, well organized, focused and methodical – a work of masterful storytelling in straight-shooter prose. Current and aspiring CEOs can learn from Gerstner’s war stories and from his visionary leadership. This may be an ironic twist, considering Gerstner’s famous quote that IBM didn’t need vision – it needed superior strategizing and marketplace performance. As it turns out, he supplied all that and vision, too.
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Contents

The Courtship
9
The Announcement
18
Drinking from a Fire Hose
29
Out to the Field
41
Operation Bear Hug
49
Stop the Bleeding and Hold the Vision
56
Creating the Leadership Team
73
Creating a Global Enterprise
83
PART MICULTURE
179
On Corporate Culture
181
An InsideOut World
189
Leading by Principles
200
PART IVLESSONS LEARNED
217
FocusYou Have to Know and Love
219
ExecutionStrategy Goes Only So Far
229
Leadership Is Personal
235

Back on the Beach
103
A Brief History of IBM
113
Making the Big Bets
121
Servicesthe Key to Integration
128
Building the Worlds Already Biggest
136
Unstacking the Stack and Focusing the Portfolio
153
The Emergence of ebusiness
165
Reflections on Strategy
176
Elephants Can Dance
242
IBMa Farewell
253
APPENDICES
259
Appendix AThe Future of ebusiness
261
Appendix BFinancial Overview
277
Index
286
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About the author (2003)

Lou Gerstner, Jr., served as chairman and chief executive officer of IBM from April 1993 until March 2002, when he retired as CEO. He remained chairman of the board through the end of 2002. Before joining IBM, Mr. Gerstner served for four years as chairman and CEO of RJR Nabisco, Inc. This was preceded by an eleven-year career at the American Express Company, where he was president of the parent company and chairman and CEO of its largest subsidiary. Prior to that, Mr. Gerstner was a director of the management consulting firm of McKinsey & Co., Inc. He received a bachelor's degree in engineering from Dartmouth College and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

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