Lou Gerstner's communication philosophy played a crucial role in ensuring a consistent message across IBM during its turnaround. He believed that in times of significant change, the message should come from one person to maintain consistency. This approach sometimes required him to "seize the microphone" from the heads of subsidiary businesses. By doing so, he could directly control the narrative and ensure that the entire organization was aligned with his vision and strategy. Furthermore, Gerstner prioritized creating a high-performance culture, understanding that people are motivated in different ways. This understanding allowed him to effectively incentivize employees and drive organizational change.

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Gerstner's approach to organizational change challenges existing paradigms in business leadership in several ways. Firstly, he emphasizes the importance of direct communication from the top. Instead of delegating messaging to heads of subsidiary businesses, Gerstner took it upon himself to ensure a consistent message across the board. This approach challenges the traditional hierarchical communication structure in many businesses. Secondly, Gerstner prioritized creating a high-performance culture. He understood that people are motivated in different ways and considered various angles and actions to incentivize employees and change organizational behavior. This approach challenges the one-size-fits-all motivation strategy often seen in traditional business leadership.

A startup can use Gerstner's strategies to incentivize employees and change organizational behavior by adopting a few key principles. Firstly, clear and consistent communication from the top is crucial. This ensures that the entire organization is aligned with the vision and goals. Secondly, creating a high-performance culture should be a top priority. This can be achieved by understanding that people are motivated in different ways and tailoring incentives accordingly. Lastly, it's important to be open to new ways of incentivizing employees and changing organizational behavior. This could involve experimenting with different reward systems, providing opportunities for professional development, or fostering a culture of innovation and creativity.

Some examples of companies that have successfully created a high-performance culture include Google, Netflix, and Amazon. Google is known for its innovative and employee-friendly culture which encourages creativity and collaboration. Netflix has a culture of freedom and responsibility, where employees are given autonomy and are expected to act in the best interest of the company. Amazon has a customer-obsessed culture, where every decision is made with the customer in mind. These companies, like IBM under Gerstner, have cultures that align with their strategic goals and motivate their employees to perform at their best.

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Who Says Elephants Can't Dance?: Leading a Great Enterprise through Dramatic Change

Learn from one of the best turnaround leaders of our time, Lou Gerstner of IBM. Take a page from Ger...

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