An Insider’s Look Back At The IBM
September 12, 2011 Jenny Thomas
It would be a safe assumption to assume that anyone who had worked for one company for 30 years might have some insights and opinions to share about that employer. During his three decades at IBM, Peter Greulich worked in administration, worldwide sales, marketing, and technical roles in Software Group. That gave him an insider’s view on what makes Big Blue tick and time to develop some strong opinions on why it continues to thrive.
Greulich holds IBM up as a company that should be studied and admired for its ability to weather multiple recessions and the constant change of technology. He believes the reason IBM has survived and thrived for a century can all be traced back to its founder Thomas J. Watson, Sr. To make his case, Greulich’s recently published a book, The World’s Greatest Salesman: An IBM Caretaker’s Perspective, Looking Back, to document Watson’s leadership.
“I started on this journey after 30 years as an IBM employee to understand Tom Watson, Sr.,” Greulich said. “I knew his words that founded ‘The IBM,’ as he called it, would be timeless words of wisdom applicable to any business or government agency and under any economic conditions. Now every person can read and experience his words and use them as a touchstone to judge today’s leaders.”
The story begins the day after Black Tuesday, October 29, 1929. Greulich examines Watson’s leadership, compassion, and understanding of the economic struggles facing his country, his company, and his employees. Excerpts from Watson’s speeches, writings, presentations, and interview materials tell the story, which takes readers through Christmas of 1933, when the Great Depression had just passed its deepest economic trough and industrial production was on the rise. Greulich chronicles how Watson was able to navigate his company through these difficult social and economic waters where others failed.
In a press release, Greulich is described as maintaining the same enthusiasm and dedication for IBM from the day he was hired until he retired in March 2011.
“Although today I am focused on management training and leadership discussions,” Greulich said via email, “the AS/400 and the customer set that surrounded that product will always be a large part of who I am. I can still sit at a table, hear that someone there has an iSeries/System i, and we can talk for hours. There is a kinship there between AS/400 SE and AS/400 customer just like there was in IBM.”
Greulich said he hopes his book causes readers to think about the condition of businesses today. “I have wondered what kind of company used to inspire that emotional tie between customer and business,” he said. “I believe this book sets the stage for such a discussion. I hope we can have it as a society. We need it. The IT industry as a whole needs this discussion.”
For more information aboutThe World’s Greatest Salesman: An IBM Caretaker’s Perspective, Looking Back, visit Greulich’s Website. The book is available from Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and the Google ebookstore.
You’re Only As Old As The Programs You Run With
IBM at 100: Let the (Psycho) Analysis Begin