IBM: Service Model for Small Business

Former IBM head Thomas J. Watson Jr, is listed as one of Time Magazines 100 most influential people of the 20th century.He lead one of the worlds best selling machines.from 1952 to 1971, In this 30 second voice clip he says that service is something most companies forget. Listen  for yourself in this item recorded in 1993 the year he died. it says so much about what makes for success. [Audio:ibmservice.mp3] 

Thomas Watson Sr, his father, joined IBM in 1915 the year after his first son was born. His regime began with a concept that the company would grow by THINKING as he said:

“We must study through reading, listening, discussing, observing and thinking. We must not neglect any one of those ways. The trouble with most of us is that we fall down on the latter – THINKING — because it’s hard work.

I found it quite interesting when I listen to the 1993 dated clip of his son who had headed up one of the worlds largest and most successful selling companies and his father who built it from less than 300 people  after he joined it from NCR in 1915.



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3 thoughts on “IBM: Service Model for Small Business

  1. On of Gordon Wood’s Industry Alumni group members, who lives and works at IBM in the US, sent this private comment to him via enmail.

    “IBM does have interesting and fascinating history.

    However, being an insider now, I feel the culture is definitely very different from that in the past years – especially since it acquired PWC in early 90s (?) to move into software, consulting & service businesses, emulate consulting firm like Accenture. It is one that is very revenue centric today, while there’s nothing wrong with this and the people that running it have been rather successful, the flip side is – carrying this to the extreme, we have an organization that has no heart and no royalty.

    I’m not sure if you are aware of this, in north America (US especially), IBM has been aggressively moving jobs off shores to cheaper countries like India, China, Brazil, etc, In Feb and Mar this year, a total of 10,000 US workers were laid off, many of them have been with the company for 20, 30,40 years, despite record profits in the very difficult economy worldwide. In deed, IBM does this every quarter, to make sure the bottom line looks perfect in Wall Street.

    The latest rule in the consulting division (GBS), the new rule is – consultants who are on bench for 8 weeks with utilization falling below 50% (does not take long to plunge below that) and no prospect of finding a permanent gig within 30 days, they can expect being shown the door.”

    Name withheld


  2. @Kitipan
    Dr Kitipan,

    Thanks for you comment. I could not agree more. Our education systems around the word are now often just commodity services designed to make money and basically are serve up like a highly processed can like Green Seas tuna. So I guess, if that is how we teach , it is no wonder students turn out as as just another Google resource for information that has no ability to think.

    But I am not sure the issue is only limited to just education. Thinking is something that people are reluctant to do no only because it involves effort but also as it may involve a risk.

    Recently at one of my MBA courses, when we were discussing how to think, I was challenged by a senior part time student who already had very good job and was no fool to reckoned with himself. He commented that in a lot of cases being very forthright and direct with your thoughts in board rooms or management teams could often get you fired.

    He then added it was his job to ask the hard questions and so he should. But he knew if he were to survive it must be in context and for best results in a non threatening environment such as process improvement. That was the skill he must learn if he was to be an effective thinker.

    He made me conclude that thinking is not only hard as it not only involves coming up with a good idea, but also a good way on how to sell it. Many are good at the first and not at the second, so they fail?

    I will should that if you are willing to take a risk and challenge conventional wisdom in a sensible way you will quickly be hired or given a raise by any company worth working for. Sometimes I believe we are our own worst advocates for mediocrity and use fear as an excuse not to perform.

    Best Gordon

  3. Come to think of it, yes I agree that students nowadays hardly do any thinking. The education system treats itself as a mold while the students are the fillings, so they practically don’t have to think “outside of the box”, actually they not to think at all. Maybe that’s why we shouldn’t expect much out of the new hires we get.

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