Monday, February 28, 2011

Organizational Culture Thrives Only to the Extent that it is Open to being Recreated

"It is a constant reminder never to define ourselves by the things we make, no matter how successful they are today."

The words are those of Sam Palmisano, CEO of IBM corporation, in a talk he made recently at his alma-mater Johns Hopkins University. What is interesting to me about this is that it speaks to IBM's exceptional ability to successfully jump from one technological generation S-curve to another -- IBM is one of the few "typewriter" companies who made the jump into digital word processing -- or maybe jump-off the curve entirely, as it did when it exited the personal computer business. Palmisano spoke to that as well: ""We are innovators. In 1981 the PC was an innovation. Twenty years later it had lost much of its differentiation. It was time to move on—to the future.....In this light, IBM's history can be seen as a century-long journey to create—and continually recreate—a culture."

This is good stuff! Too many CEOs talk to their people about "this being the last big change; the last major reorganization!" What are they thinking about? Change is all about us; it is endemic to modern management. Palmisano is right when he says organizational cultures exist to be recreated.

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