How will you survive 100 years as IBM did?: “…never to define ourselves by the things we make.”
“It is a constant reminder never to define ourselves by the things we make, no matter how successful they are today.” Sam Palmisano @ Johns Hopkins University.
Listining up to the speak that Sam Palmisano, IBM CEO, has done at Johns Hopkins University as part of the IBM 100 years lectures made me think.
It is always a good learning for everyone in business to study the story of successfully companies around the World. Specially understand, what make them different, and how they have survived over and over decades. Sometimes we just focus on the big players that we are seeing now, the ones that are making big things right here. But we forgot that we should always learn from experience, the years over our shoulders make us successful, not just one invention today which could be the greatest…today (again).
That´s why IBM took my attention while learning about its 100 years in technology industry. The first shocking thing was 100 years, that´s brought several questions…how have a company has survived for that long time?. The second thing that impress me was what they were at the beginning, what they were 10 years later, 40 years later, and now after 100 years. They were always different things, every time a changing company. If you want to learn, what they were when, see the following video about IBM Centennial.
We have heard quiet a lot of times that with Globalization between us, we are in an incessant changing World. What is an innovation today, is old fashion tomorrow. What our clients want today, it will not be what they will want tomorrow. And the big question is, how to keep up?! How to change as the World does? even when you are a big big elephant with 400.000 people working around the World, with a different cultures, at different time zones? How do they can make it?
As Sam said described it, in three points:
1. Being a global enterprise.
2. Company´s values defined by your employees, not by the management. Your company´s ADN. You are not the same company every time, but your values are.
3. and the one that most impacted me: “…never to define ourselves by the things we make.”
So let´s think on the big players in the technology industry nowadays. Are they what they are making? or Are they what they really are?
Leave you some thoughts?
Is Apple…Iphone? or more than that?
Is Microsoft…just Windows?
Is SAP…just an ERP?
…and will they survive 100 years?