After 14 years in IBM, allow my strictly personal reflection upon Ginny as the new CEO and what future capabilities she will hold dearest.
I am extremely happy for her but also for the IBM staff that has endured Sam.
I always hoped that IBM would lead before the US appointing a credential non white/male at its helm and is thus happy it’s now 1:1. Anyway, this entry is about “the art of maximization”.
I have met Ginny in different roles, as the global insurance leader and as the global BCS leader after the merge with PWC. She is indeed a great person! As a military leader long time ago she most likely would have been one of those leaders the footsoldier could die for … bad metaphore, I know… but you get the point. With her at the helm, I might have stayed…
Whilst Lou Gerstner was the turnaround guy – maximizing business control and personal commitment – and great at it, Sam Palmisano has increasingly been the profit maximization guy, ironically also “at any cost”. IBM today is today a slim risk taking machine for complex projects, a software company, an innovator but it is not the largest player anymore. IBM still attracts a lot of talented people and deliver, quarter by quarter.
It was not until I encountered the concept of Hesketts’ Service Profit Value Chain, adopted in IBM as the strategic leadership model, that it became clear to me how wrong the profit maximization focus was, for me at least. Even though profit maximization is required in the current/historical “shareholder society” it is still the outcome / consequence of how you manage or leverage the “talent society” in the service industry we all operate in.
I had great fun in IBM. I continuously met outstanding people. IBM constantly delivered to the stockmarket but, and this is a major but, I was increasingly amazed “how little” actually was achieved (from undeployed talent) with so many great people. It stunned me. The results could have been even more if all staff were aligned to their passions. Or?
One of the major reasons for joining HCL was its honest focus on employee maximization and employee passion. If you are to run a service company today and grow in a virtual world of distributed collaboration you need to secure trust and respect the individual. This is a fundamental part of the HCL EFCS commitment and increasingly acknowledged around the world.
So back to Ginny, what will she do her first year? What can we learn from this passionate and great leader? What will be her agenda for one of the most influential companies the next decade? Will she put the employee first on the agenda and bring back “Respect for the individual” which WAS a core value in IBM for decades, before Sam took it away? Will IBM become a context for risktaking, platforms and methods were the rest of us will focus on the talents operating in that context?
It will be extremely interesting to see what Ginnys PRIMARY focus of maximization will be and what this will signal to the rest of the world:
People? Partner? Profit? Patents? Process? …