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June 26, 2006

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Blaine Berger

Of course Lou Gerstner deserves the accolades mentioned in your tribute to him. What is often lost in the IBM transformation story, however, is the role played by many IBMers in the trenches who rallied around a plain-talking leader. Like you, I remember Lou's arrival in 1993 but from a much different perspective.

Downsizing was the mantra. Wall Street (and our competitors) wanted layoffs and the dividend cut and the company split up and sold. Middle management was for the first time fearful for their jobs. However, few of us working at the time ever doubted that IBM would make it.

We had some of the best people, technology, and war chest that few companies could match. We simply were too slow and fought harder with each other than competitors.

It took the outsider, Lou Gerstner, to implement what all the insider management already knew. To his credit, he took the time to understand IBM's strengths...helped in large measure by IBMers around the world thrilled by the prospect of meaningful change embodied by the arrival of Lou.

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