The IBM Way
Francis G. “Buck” Rodgers was vice-president of marketing at IBM. After early retirement he served as a consultant. He is famous as a motivator or articulator of ideas, and as a public speaker. “Every employee has been trained to think the customer comes first.” This 1986 book has ten chapters, an Appendix, and an Index to its 235 pages. There are no pictures aside from the jacket photograph. [What do you think of the expression on his face?] The founder of IBM had three rules: 1) respect for the individual; 2) give the customer the best possible service; 3) excellence means superior performance in product and service. The book goes into more details.
Thomas J. Peters wrote the ‘Foreword’. The marketing people are the most important since their success creates the sale of products. Why don’t other businesses follow this rule? Have they lost sight of the basics (p.xii)? Perhaps these companies are controlled by the Finance Dept.? They know how to cut costs but not how to expand sales or build a better product. “If it works don’t ‘fool’ with it.” “If I want your opinion I’ll ask for it.” The ‘Introduction’ tells of Rodgers’ career (p.5) and the purpose of this book (p.6). The ten chapters have eighty sub-topics.
1) “A Business and Its Beliefs” (4).
2) “Leadership” (10).
3) “Creating a Totally Sales-Oriented Environment” (10).
4) “Building a Superior Marketing Organization” (13).
5) “Future-Oriented Marketing” (11).
6) “Solution-Minded Selling” (7).
7) “Being Responsive to the Customer” (6).
8) “Service, Service, Service ... and More Service” (7).
9) “Measurement and Compensation” (5).
10) “The Entrepreneurial Spirit” (7).
“Some Final Thoughts” is the last section. “Any company of any size could emulate IBM’s way.” The way isn’t expensive or exclusive. Its backed on being the very best. It also makes useful products. Rodgers says IBM incorporates honesty, intelligence, courage, strength, thoughtfulness and gentleness. He hopes this becomes the standard operating procedure for all businesses. The ‘Appendix’ contains excerpts from IBM’s “Business Conduct Guidelines”. It emphasizes the need for honest, ethical behavior. The laws must be obeyed (at a minimum). There are many examples here. [There were many changes at IBM since this book was written, it could use an update.]
The development and use of “personal computers” changed how businesses operated. Once two guys in a garage could produce a personal computer the economics changed. Low overhead created fierce competition for any business that needed salesmen to sell a product to customers when other businesses didn’t use salesmen. Yes, a mainframe computer had tremendous power over a PC, but the average computer user didn’t need all that power. Think of a bicycle compared to a more costly trolley. A personal bicycle allowed you to go where you wanted when you wanted, unlike a trolley that ran on tracks. It did new things like word processing, spreadsheets, databases, etc. Lower costs drove sales. Lifetime employment is a good thing, but the best laid plans of mice and men are no match for economic conditions or a very hungry cat.