cover image Saving Big Blue: Leadership Lessons and Turnaround Tactics of IBM's Lou Gerstner

Saving Big Blue: Leadership Lessons and Turnaround Tactics of IBM's Lou Gerstner

Robert Slater / Author McGraw-Hill Companies $24.95 (309p) ISB

Former Time magazine reporter Slater (Jack Welch and the GE Way; Ovitz: The Inside Story, etc.) doesn't go as far as Garr in IBM Redux (reviewed above) to document the story of IBM's turnaround. Slater's main method of getting at Gerstner the man is to stud the book with quotes from previously published Gerstner interviews in such magazines as Fortune and Business Week. In the chapter ""What's Lou Gerstner Like: `You're Not Getting Inside My Head,'"" Slater fails to dig for meaningful biographical information and instead serves up twice-warmed tidbits that shed little light on his subject: ""Once I have a feeling for the choices, then I have no problems with the decisions. I love to make strategic decisions."" As for telling the story of Gerstner's miracle-working, or of his notorious imperiousness, Slater's conceit of making each chapter convey a ""Leadership Lesson"" (""Sweep Aside the Old Corporate Culture If Necessary, but Do It Quickly""; ""Shift Turnaround Tactics: End the Cost-Cutting; Search for Revenue"") drains much of the drama from what, as Garr demonstrates, is a rousing business story. Slater does a credible job explaining IBM's shifts in the design and marketing of mainframes and in the conceptual changes the company underwent in moving to Web-based business, but that story is available in more detail from Garr. (Sept.)