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Who Says Elephants Can't Dance?: Inside IBM's Historic Turnaround

3.86  ·  Rating Details ·  3,909 Ratings  ·  171 Reviews
In 1990, IBM had its most profitable year ever. By 1993, the computer industry had changed so rapidly the company was on its way to losing $16 billion and IBM was on a watch list for extinction -- victimized by its own lumbering size, an insular corporate culture, and the PC era IBM had itself helped invent.

Then Lou Gerstner was brought in to run IBM. Almost everyone watch
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published November 12th 2002 by HarperBusiness (first published 2002)
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Ahmad Sharabiani
Who Says Elephants Can't Dance? Inside IBM's Historic Turnaround, Louis V. Gerstner Jr.
عنوان: چه کسی میگوید فیل ها نمیتوانند برقصند؟ ؛ نویسنده: لوئیس وی. گرستنر جونیور؛ مترجم: امیر توفیقی؛ ویراستار محب الله گل بابایی؛ تهران، انستیتو ایزایران، 1382؛ در 427 ص؛ شابک: 9648068305؛ جدول، نمودار، چاپ دوم 1384؛ در 317 ص؛ شابک: 9648068690؛ موضوع: تاریخ شرکت آی.بی.ام. صنعت کامپیوتر، قرن 20 م
عنوان: رقص فیلها - لویی گشنر و معجزه ی تحول آی.بی.ام. ؛ عنوان روی جلد: رقص فیلها : سرگذشت تحول آی.بی.ام.؛ نویسنده:
Omar Halabieh
Aug 04, 2013 Omar Halabieh rated it really liked it
Below are key excerpts that I found particularly insightful in this book, detailing the turnaround that Louis Gerstner engineered at IBM in the 1990s:

1- "Thus began a lifelong process of trying to build organizations that allows for hierarchy but at he same time bring people together for problem solving, regardless of where they are positioned within the organization."

2- "I went on to summarize my management philosophy and practice: I manage by principle, not procedure. The marketplace dictates
Prajakta Shikarkhane
Jan 25, 2016 Prajakta Shikarkhane rated it really liked it
I don't usually read business books. If I do, I never read them on a Sunday!

"Who says Elephants Can't dance?" is unpretentious, witty and honest all at once. The fact that Lou does not consider himself a technologist helps. He explains the underpinnings of the IT industry and IBM lucidly.

This razor sharp focus on competition, execution & change management are compelling. However, the most important leadership trait that exudes is his ability to understand "what drives people". He says, "Pe
Morteza Samadian
Jan 14, 2012 Morteza Samadian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
آقای گرستنر در سال 1993 شرکت آی بی ام را که به دلیل تغییرات بنیادین صنعت کامپیوتر رو به افول بود را تحویل گرفت و در سال 2002 این شرکت را در اوج تحویل داد
منتقدی نوشته بود که آی بی ام فیل است و عدم انعطاف طبیعی آن شرکت را به سمت مرگش خواهد برد. گرستنر در کمتر از 10 سال فیل را متحول کرد و در جواب این انتقاد کتابی با این نام نوشت
یکی از بهترین کتاب های مدیریتی که موردکاوی قدرتمندی را به خواننده عرضه می کند
Saman Kashi
کتاب ( چه کسی میگوید فیلها نمیتوانند برقصند؟) که با عنوان (رقص فیلها) به فارسی برگردانده شده است جزو کتابهاییست که بیش از 13 سال از چاپ اول آن میگذرد و هر چند مباحثی که در آن مطرح میشود مباحث و تحلیلهای روز نیستند، ولی در بازار نشر کتاب ایران که کتاب خوب "مورد کاوی" بسیار کم چاپ میشود و بسیار بازار نشر پر هرج و مرجی است، جزو کتابهاییست که هنوز خواندنش به مدیران میانی به بالا توصیه میشود

داستان از افول شرکت (آی بی ام) شروع میشود که در برههای از زمان(اوایل دهه 90)، تمام توجه و تمرکز خود را بر روی (
Joe Maguire
Apr 30, 2012 Joe Maguire rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
I have worked hands-on daily with IBM hardware, software and services for well over a decade, some of which overlapping with Lou Gerstner's period as CEO of the company, so I picked this up expecting not to learn much I hadn't already known about IBM. I was entirely wrong. This is a really engaging and honest account of the turnaround of a company that was literally falling apart as it failed to adapt to the changing world in which it was operating. The clarity of purpose which Gerstner, as a 'n ...more
Jonathan Eng
Feb 05, 2014 Jonathan Eng rated it it was ok
It is nice to think a person can come into a failing giant such as IBM and turn it around with common sense and a gamble or two. However, I found Gerstner overly self-indulgent. He takes credit for everything! Even though he notes Dennie's importance in the recovery, he phrases it as "I got lucky in meeting Dennie" rather than "Dennie saved the company." Also, I thought it petty of him to publish some of the emails his employees had written him--to point out their lack of tact. Let's remember th ...more
Ghasem Safaeinejad
May 15, 2016 Ghasem Safaeinejad rated it really liked it
Shelves: مدیریت
شرکت های بسیاری بوده اند که در طول تاریخ تا مرحله سقوط و فروپاشی پیش رفته اند. برخی از آنها با کوشش تیم های مدیریتی نوین به طرز معجزه آسایی از نابودی نجات یافته اند . آی بی ام یکی از همین شرکت هاست .

در سال شرکت آی بی ا م با میلیارد دلار سود خالص بالاترین سود خود را به دست آورد ولی همین شرکت در سال با از دست دادن میلیارد دلار در معرض نابودی قرار گرفت . مدیری لایق به نام لوئیس گرستنر در رأس این شرکت قرار گرفت و آن را از سقوط نجات داد و متحول کر د . در این کتاب او داستان این تحول را از زبان خود
Dec 31, 2014 Rahul rated it really liked it
The book begins by the story of how Gerstner convinced himself to join IBM even when he had no technical expertise. Then the book talks about the measures he took to rescue IBM from the clutches of bankruptcy and the innovations and decisions taken that eventually resulted into IBM becoming the market leader again. He ends the book with the lessons he learned along the way.

You must be wondering about all the “Gyan” that Gerstner must have given in this book and the book is tailor-made for an IT
May 04, 2014 Tony rated it really liked it
Truth be told, I don't have much use for C-level executives. Most of what I see about them involves obscene levels of compensation, on an annual basis, personal secretaries and use of expensive corporate assets, like company planes. The company can be laying off middle-class people like me, but the executives pocket obscene amounts of money, vacation at their beach houses and generally live a very disconnected life from the rest of us. They're the counter-example to the notion that the USA has a ...more
Timothy Chklovski
Mar 23, 2015 Timothy Chklovski rated it it was amazing
A really great business book -- although the main focus is on turning a large business around, the main value is a perceptive, large picture description of the kind of trouble successful companies can get into. In that sense, it is sort of an Innovator's Dilemma, seen from the viewpoint of a company disrupted. New to me were the ideas that, unlike a startup, a large company can have severe problems and still recover.

IBM itself is a very interesting case of having led the industry and created man
Feb 25, 2014 Frank rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business
I have read many business books,and I would have to put this book into the must read category for anyone interested iin improving their business acumen and capabilties. Gerstner walks the reader through the myriad of challenges and processes he undertook to right the IBM ship. He does so in a clear, pragmatic manner at just the right amount of detail and pace. He demonstrates how he applied many aspects of business models and theories to the real world situation he faced at IBM.
Pawan Powar
Jan 03, 2016 Pawan Powar rated it it was amazing
My take away:
* Customer responsiveness should come first.
* Centralization vs. decentralization: We should go for decentralization of authority, only in cases where it benefit customer. There can be disadvantages of decentralization as well. e.g. response after terrorist attack. Each country has many organization and co-ordination between them become challenge in critical situation.
* Everyone one (especially at senior level) should work as single unit rather than fighting for their own units. L
Kaustubh Kirti
Mar 24, 2015 Kaustubh Kirti rated it really liked it
One of the most compelling thing about a self told story is it is very difficult to make it to the point. Louis Gerstner has pulled the correct strings in pointing out what happened, what needed to be done and what he did. It is a really interesting read especially people under going management training to look at the broader picture. The book talks about things like organisation culture, gravevine, strategy vs tactics vs vision. It talks about small organisations and big organisations. It talk ...more
Sam Choi
Mar 01, 2016 Sam Choi rated it it was amazing
Book 8: Difficult

IBM's legendary CEO reveals the secrets behind the behemoth reversal of the second largest firm in America.

Last Friday I interviewed Professor Tavernetti on the beauty of mathematics. The subject material had one thing in common with the documentation of IBM's corporate turnaround - I couldn't decide which topic would make me fall asleep faster. Nonetheless, I walked in his office ready to fake intrigue and "hmm" and "ahh" as appropriate. However, one quote in particular stuck
Jim Serger
Apr 28, 2014 Jim Serger rated it it was amazing
Elephants are HUGE! IBM is huge, and the author made them dance again. Louis was the narrator in this book and it was felt through and through--his passion, honesty, guts, teamwork and risk taking all paid off in the end as noted and as proven. His love of a battle in the trenches of work was proven effective--right sizing as he put it. not down sizing, but right sizing. It take vision and the craft of leadership to lead a company of this magnitude down the correct path. The 9 years at the helm, ...more
Jul 17, 2015 Pranav rated it really liked it
Shelves: 100booksinayear
Apple’s famous turnaround has been depicted in Steve Jobs’ biographical movie. Almost everyone who knows Apple, knows how Jonathan Ive and Steve Jobs brought the company back by shutting down every project and focusing purely on the iPod. Lesser romantic is IBM’s turnaround depicted in this book, but it is not much different from Apple’s revival. Like Apple, IBM had to traverse a path that was drastically different to the one planned by the incumbent management, and like Apple it took guts.

Brendan Mckenna
Jan 26, 2016 Brendan Mckenna rated it it was amazing
Lou Gerstner tells the incredible story of saving one of America's greatest and oldest companies from decline. IBM was founded in 1924 as a merger between 3 companies. One of the companies was founded by Thomas Watson and it tabulated Census data using a electro-mechanical machine. In the early '90s, the company was sharply declining in all areas. The company lost -$8.1B in '93, the year Lou Gerstner took over. He successfully turned the company around by turning the company inside out and makin ...more
Muhammad Khan
This book is a personal and amazing first-hand account from a CEO who took on the enormous challenge of turning around IBM. Although over a decade old, the insights and history, personal email snippets and advice is really useful, applicable and very relevant to any IT manager, coming to terms with rapid change, position in marketplace, survival of competitive forces and overall corporate strategy.

I really enjoyed this book, found it very inspiring, unique and sincere...Hats off to Gerstner for
Michael Bykov
Apr 28, 2012 Michael Bykov rated it it was amazing
Absolutely brilliant story and insight from a non-tech executive turning around the world's biggest tech company - despite all odds.
Sanford Chee
Jun 08, 2015 Sanford Chee rated it liked it
I was interested in following IBM after Warren Buffett bought the stock aggressively. This book recounts the turnaround episode after Louis Gerstner joined as CEO in 1993 to save IBM from the brink of collapse. What brought a once mighty company to the brink of collapse? Warren Buffett mentioned the ABCs of corporate decay, which are arrogance, bureaucracy and complacency. You could certainly see all 3 traits of corporate cancer metastasize within IBM in the early 1990s. Louis Gertnser's analysi ...more
Ratnakar Sadasyula
Louis Gerstner, a non technologist, took over IBM when it was at one of it's low points. A story that by itself is fascinating. Sadly the book again really does not live up to expectations. It reads more like one of those "Management Guides" you pick up at airports for time pass reading.

Add to it Gerstner has this habit of referencing himself too much at every given moment. The fact is that a whole lot of people, played a role in Big Blue's turnaround. But Gerstner, casts himself as too much of
Хотя Луис Герстнер вошел в историю менеджмента как спаситель IBM от её краха, тем не менее книга мне не понравилась как например другие подобные книги из жанров "100 гениальных менеджеров века" и им подобных.

Главной причиной, наверное, то что автор слишком поверхностно пробежался по множеству интересных тем и не стал углубляться в детали своей работы, а повсеместно ограничился лишь размытыми рассказами. То есть понять в чем его гениальность и в чём секрет этого человека мне так и не удалось.

May 19, 2009 Stacy added it
Shelves: worldnet-read
Even when all bets are off you still can turn it around. Execution is key. Corporate culture is of the utmost importance. Customer focus. Knowing when to cut your losses with a product line, plan etc.

* communication, “Say what you do, do what you say” could be one of his mottos, at all levels: cross-border, cross-departements, bottom-up, top-down, internal-external;
* a constant competitive analysis, or benchmarking, with speeches I find hilarious, but true, referring to competitors stealing IBMe
Dec 08, 2011 Eugene rated it really liked it
Эту книгу мне рекомендовали давно и теперь я понимаю почему. "Кто сказал, что слоны не умеют танцевать?" Луи Герстнера - почти автобиографическая книга. Только повествование идет не об отдельном человеке, а о компании IBM в то время, когда решался вопрос, оставаться ли ей на рынке или умирать.

Луис Герстнер пришел в компанию IBM генеральным директором и председателем совета директоров в 1993 году. На тот момент компания напоминала полумертвого динозавра, которого пинали все, кому не лень. И не пр
May 15, 2014 Tanya rated it it was amazing
Каква невероятна книга! В епохата на навлизането на персоналните компютри, IBM, които са лидери на пазара основно на базата на производството и поддръжката на мейнфрейми, започват рязко да губят пазарен дял, печалбите им се сриват до дъното, доходността по акциите е отрицателна и конкуренти и медии вече са ги отписали като потенциален участник в бъдещето на технологиите. Една смяна на главния изпълнителен директор обаче променя всичко. Едва след 9 години, когато се пенсионира, той оставя зад себ ...more
Dec 18, 2014 Ahmed rated it liked it
An excellent insight into one of major business comebacks in recent history. The irony is that I was at IBM at the time but did not understand the significance of the changes partly because relatively new there. However, the changes have influenced greatly my career. Gerstner admits that he did not understand the technology but understood business structure, the market and how to instigate a change in culture. Perhaps IBM needs another Gerstner in 2015!
Niket Dixit
Sep 13, 2014 Niket Dixit rated it really liked it
The book is nicely written and delivers the message in quite an effective way. The book is different from a lot of autobiographies available in the market.
The book was primarily focused on Gerstner's role at IBM and its subsequent turnaround. He explained quite nicely his inhibitions to take on the job as he was not from technology background. However, after accepting the challenge, he explained all the changes he did during his stay at IBM. Each and every aspect of IBM was touched, evaluated an
Mar 27, 2015 Krishna rated it really liked it
Who Says Elephants Can't Dance? tells the story of IBM's competitive and cultural transformation. In his own words, Gerstner offers a blow-by-blow account of his arrival at the company and his campaign to rebuild the leadership team and give the workforce a renewed sense of purpose. In the process, Gerstner defined a strategy for the computing giant and remade the ossified culture bred by the company's own success.
Jun 06, 2015 Usha rated it really liked it
Excellent and inspiring book describing the turn around of IBM.
One thought that came to my mind while reading this book was that while in the United States, there is bitter rivalry amongst the IT players - Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, etc. In India it is different. There is no open rivalry at least till now. They do not bad mouth one another and are very gentlemenly in their game.
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Louis V. Gerstner Jr. was chairman of the board and chief executive officer of IBM from April 1993 until 2002 when he retired as CEO in March and chairman in December. He is largely credited with turning around IBM's fortunes.

He was formerly CEO of RJR Nabisco, and also held senior positions at American Express and McKinsey & Company. He is a graduate of Chaminade High School, Dartmouth Colleg
More about Louis V. Gerstner Jr....

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“It’s been said that every institution is nothing but the extended shadow of one person.” 0 likes
“I came to see, in my time at IBM, that culture isn’t just one aspect of the game—it is the game.” 0 likes
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