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IBM CEOs – Challenges and Transformations

IBM CEOs: Leadership ⇔ Challenges ⇔ Transformations in the IT Century
(researched and compiled by Peter de Toma Sr.)

5 Key Players - Deep Roots:
Computing Tabulating Recording Corporation (CTR) 1911 => IBM 192

hundreds of fascinating   business management lessons for discussions in lectures, seminars, workshops.
Executive Profiles

Real test of Leadership
Basic Beliefs
Business Spirit
Product Development
Business Strategy

Business Management
Business Growth 
Risk taking – Bet Big
Risk management
Dramatic Crises
Successful Crises Management
Major Milestones
Work Force Management
Work Force Motivation
Customer Relationship Management
Competitive Dynamics
Business Partner Relations
Business & IT Consulting Services
Globally Integrated Enterprise
New Corporate Values
Permanent Challenges
Permanent Transformations
Business Data


publicly available:
>160 Books by and about IBM;

>100 Books about Business Management, Sales & Marketing, IBM competitors, IT History etc. – see specialized business library;  
Hundreds of Documents, Articles,  
images, photos, tables and graphs;
IBM Annual Reports since 1986;
IBM public online archives;

IBM Websites;
IBM 100 Icons of Progress;
Hundreds of Websites including
IBM Websites, Wikipedia, amazon.com, amazon.de, amazon.co.uk and websites accessed via Google and Yahoo etc.
Each Highlight/Milestone is an excerpt from my research and compilation of details (>4 GB.).

For any clarification, further details and research please make use of the original sources.  

Any feedback is welcome.  

Thomas J. Watson Sr. 1914-1941

Thomas J. Watson Sr.

Thomas Watson Sr. & Jr.

Thomas J. Watson Jr.
1914 - 1956-1964 - 1993

Thomas J. Watson Jr.
1965-June 1971

T. Vincent Learson
1912 – June 1971-1972 - 1996

Frank T. Cary
1920 - 1973-1980 - 2006

John R. Opel
1925 - 1981-1984 - 2011

John F. Akers
1934 - 1985-1993 - 2014


Louis V. Gerstner, Jr.
1942 - 1993-2001 -

Samuel J. Palmisano
1951 - 2002-2011 -

Virginia M. Rometty

1957 - 2012--


 IBM CEOs: Challenges and Transformations – historic topics and lessons for today

Thomas Watson Sr.

Building IBM – Part I – Business Culture of “THINK”

Thomas Watson Sr.:

Speeches 1915-1933 – Lessons for today and the future

Thomas Watson Sr. and Thomas Watson Jr.

Building IBM – Part II – A Business and its Beliefs – Business Culture for nine Decades

Thomas Watson Jr.:

Building IBM – Part III – 1956-1971

Thomas Watson Jr.:

IBM – Push into Computers as fast as possible – SAGE – SABRE - IBM Systems 360/370

Frank Cary

Driving Growth and Product Development – IBM Systems /370 - S/3X – IBM PC

Frank Cary – John Opel – John Akers

IBM Personal Computer and Microsoft – Windows versus OS/2 - IBM and Bill Gates: a fateful relationship 1980-1992 – Building Microsoft

John Opel

Top Performance 1984 - Growth Goals for John Akers 100 B$ Revenue 1990 and 185-200 B$ 1995  

John Akers – IBM Rochester

The Silverlake Project – Transformation at IBM – IBM AS/400 – “This is a remarkable tale” Tom Peters

John Akers

1985-1993: “Broken Promises - An Unconventional View by Mills and Friesen in 1996”

1989 75th Anniversary; 1990 a  terrific year with problems behind; 1991 first quarter outlook changed, Akers wants to break the company up into 13 units; Forbes Magazine 1985-1992 and Fortune reorganization 1991; verdict mid-1992; Wang Chapter 11; DEC founder and CEO Ken Olsen retired in July 1992 (“I got fired”); IBM profit 1990 6 B$, IBM loss 1992 5 B$.  - 1993 January 26th: Dividend cut, Akers steps down; reviewing what happened: lessons from successes and failures.

Louis V. Gerstner Jr.:

IBM Turnaround and Return to Leadership

Sam Palmisano

Leading Change when Business is Good – New Corporate Values – A Computer called “Watson”

Sam Palmisano and Virginia Rometty

IBM Roadmaps 2010 and 2015 – Cognitive Computing  

Thomas Watson Sr., Thomas Watson Jr.,

Louis V. Gerstner Jr., Sam Palmisano,

Virginia Rometty

Leadership Principles and Practices



IBM Changes - Transformations - Milestones

Products – Systems - Services - Solutions – Customers – Icons of Progress – Competitors

IBM Salesmanship and Marketing

Practices – Initiatives

IBM Antitrust Case

1969-1982 – paralyzing the company and settled without merits! 

IBM Corporate Social Responsibilities