Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Posts Tagged ‘leadership

What Do CEOs DO All Day?

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If you were wondering what your CEO was doing all day, you need wonder no longer.

A story in today’s Wall Street Journal cites a research study conducted by the London School of Economics and Harvard Business School entitled the “Executive Time Use Project” reveals that CEOs spend about a third of their work time in meetings.

Funny, I would have thought a third of their time was spent on airplanes!

In any case, as a study overview on the London School explains, “A CEO’s schedule is especially important to a firm’s success, which raises a few questions: What do they do all day?”

And, more importantly, can they be more efficient with their time?

Here’s a few other sound bytes from the study:

  • On average, some 85 percent of a CEO’s time was spent working with other people, with only 15 percent spent working alone.
  • The time CEOs spent with outsiders had no measurable impact on firm performance. But, time spent with other people inside the company was strongly correlated with positive increases in productivity.
  • In companies with stronger governance, CEOs spent more time with insiders and less time with outsiders, and at the same time were more productive.

So how else did they spend their time? In total, some 85 percent was spent working with other people through meetings, phone calls, and public appearances.

Of that precious time spent with others, 42 percent was spent with only “insiders,” 25 percent with insiders and outsiders together, and 16 percent with only outsiders.

The time spent with insiders, however, was strongly correlated with productivity increases. For every 1 percent gain in time spent with at least one insider, productivity advanced 1.23 percent.

Not so reassuring was the fact that the time CEOs spent with outsiders had no measureable correlation with firm performance.

Turbo’s Translation: Focus on meeting with your more senior troops, skip some of the speaking engagements, and be very discriminating about the biz dev meetings you take.

Former IBM CEO John Opel Passes Away

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John R. Opel, IBM’s fifth CEO, died on November 2, 2011. He was 86 years old.

John R. Opel was IBM's chief executive officer from January 1981 through January 1985 and chairman of the board from February 1983 through May 1986. He joined IBM as a sales representative in 1949, working in the Jefferson City, Missouri, branch office. He became a vice president in 1966, the head of IBM's Data Processing Product Group in 1972, and president of the company in 1974.

After he graduated from the University of Chicago with an MBA in 1949, Opel had two job offers. One was to rewrite economics textbooks and the other was to take over his father’s Jefferson City, Missouri, hardware store. Neither seemed especially appealing. He went fishing with his dad and a family friend to mull things over.

While they were out in the boat, the friend, Harry Strait, an IBM sales manager, hooked Opel rather than a fish — offering him a job selling business equipment in central Missouri.

That chance encounter launched a career for Opel at IBM that spanned 36 years and culminated with him presiding over one of the most successful companies in the world.

Opel’s years at IBM coincided with the company’s rise from a modest-sized maker of accounting devices to become the leader of a burgeoning computer industry and a trend-setter for the Information Age. He was president from 1974 to 1983 and CEO from 1981 to 1985, navigating the company safely through a number of minefields, including the advent of the personal computer and a long US antitrust investigation.

“He was a great leader,” recalls Patrick Toole, a long-time IBM executive who joined the company in 1960. “He was good with customers and his colleagues. Everybody trusted him.”

Asked in a 2010 interview what had sustained IBM for nearly 100 years, Opel said it was the values engendered by Thomas J. Watson Sr., who ran the company from 1914 until he retired in 1952. Watson preached that the company should be run based on its beliefs, which included respect for the individual, dedication to customer satisfaction, and a pledge to perform every task in a superior way.

For Opel, the way the company treated people was its most important attribute. “Mutual respect and openness and honesty among people is what makes a company work well over time,” he said.

In an era when many chief executives were driven by ego and some belittled those around them, Opel was self-effacing and sensitive to other people’s points of view and feelings. An English major at Westminster College in Missouri, he read voraciously throughout his life, including poetry. He was a bird-watcher as well as a fisherman.

Yet he was no pushover. “He challenged people’s assumptions. He was always pushing the edge,” recalls Nicholas Donofrio, a longtime IBM executive who joined the company in 1964. Donofrio recalls a meeting of the corporate management board in the early 1980s when Opel addressed the issue of cigarette smoking. Most of the men in the room were smokers, yet Opel looked around at them and predicted that within a decade IBM would be a smoke-free environment. And he had the nerve to ask his smoker colleagues to help him lead the transition.

Opel learned how to manage people at the side of Thomas J. Watson Jr., who ran the company from 1952 to 1970. Watson summoned Opel from the hinterlands and made him his executive assistant in 1959 after watching him teach a couple of sales classes in Endicott, New York. Working with Watson at IBM headquarters in Armonk, New York, Opel was impressed with the way Watson dealt with his executives. He’d insist on a full debate on any fundamental disagreement, and he didn’t let his personal feelings about any executive prevent him from giving the individual a fair hearing.

Opel hadn’t an inkling that he was headed for the top of the corporate ladder when he joined the company and began selling electronic accounting machines and time clocks in poor, dusty towns in Missouri’s Ozarks region.

Back in those days, an IBM salesman installed the equipment he sold, so Opel became adept with pliers and screwdrivers even while he learned how to make an effective sales pitch. He told a story to IBM’s Think magazine in 1974 that captures the flavor of being an IBM salesman in a rural area during that era. He had a clock system in Centralia, Missouri, that was connected to a fire alarm.

During a maintenance call, he made a mistake when he adjusted the timer. The next morning, a Sunday, when the entire volunteer fire department was in church, the alarm went off improperly and the church practically emptied out. “We had programming difficulties in those days, too,” he told the Think interviewer.

During his long career, Opel wore many hats. After selling for a decade and then working as Watson’s assistant, he made his mark by managing the launch of IBM’s System 360 mainframe family in 1964. He later headed up communications, ran product divisions, and served as the chief financial officer.

When he was president, Opel and his mentor, CEO Frank Cary, set up a skunk-works project that resulted in the introduction of the IBM Personal Computer in the summer of 1981, just a few months after Opel took the reigns of the company. That marked the beginning of the rapid adoption of PCs by businesses.

In those days, he said, it was in IBM’s nature to adapt quickly when new technologies came along. “We constantly were willing to change and were accelerating our ability to change,” he said.

Opel rejected the idea that good leadership could be codified in a set of detailed rules. “You can’t write rules about things like that,” he said. “You just have to be alert, and be thoughtful. And you have to rely a lot on the wisdom that exists in your employees.

He will be missed by his IBM family.

Written by turbotodd

November 4, 2011 at 5:32 pm

IBM Board Names Ginny Rometty New IBM President & CEO

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The IBM board of directors has elected Virginia M. Rometty president and chief executive officer of the company, effective January 1, 2012.

She was also elected a member of the board of directors, effective at that time. Ms. Rometty is currently IBM senior vice president and group executive for sales, marketing and strategy. She succeeds Samuel J. Palmisano, who currently is IBM chairman, president and chief executive officer. Mr. Palmisano will remain chairman of the board.

“Ginni Rometty has successfully led several of IBM’s most important businesses over the past decade – from the formation of IBM Global Business Services to the build-out of our Growth Markets.”

“Ginni Rometty has successfully led several of IBM’s most important businesses over the past decade – from the formation of IBM Global Business Services to the build-out of our Growth Markets Unit,” Mr. Palmisano said.

“But she is more than a superb operational executive. With every leadership role, she has strengthened our ability to integrate IBM’s capabilities for our clients. She has spurred us to keep pace with the needs and aspirations of our clients by deepening our expertise and industry knowledge. Ginni’s long-term strategic thinking and client focus are seen in our growth initiatives, from cloud computing and analytics to the commercialization of Watson. She brings to the role of CEO a unique combination of vision, client focus, unrelenting drive, and passion for IBMers and the company’s future. I know the board agrees with me that Ginni is the ideal CEO to lead IBM into its second century.”

IBM Board of Directors Elects Virginia M. "Ginni" Rometty President and CEO of IBM

IBM Board of Directors Elects Virginia M. “Ginni” Rometty President and CEO of IBM: Samuel J. Palmisano and Virginia M. “Ginni” Rometty at IBM’s corporate headquarters in Armonk, N.Y.  Rometty, an IBM senior vice president, was elected by the IBM board of directors to become the company’s president and ninth CEO on January 1, 2012.  Palmisano, currently IBM chairman, president and CEO, has significantly transformed IBM.  During his tenure as CEO, the company has delivered record financial performance and breakthrough innovations, such as Watson. Mr. Palmisano will remain IBM’s chairman. [Photo: Jon Iwata/IBM]

Ms. Rometty said: “There is no greater privilege in business than to be asked to lead IBM, especially at this moment. Sam had the courage to transform the company based on his belief that computing technology, our industry, even world economies would shift in historic ways. All of that has come to pass. Today, IBM’s strategies and business model are correct. Our ability to execute and deliver consistent results for clients and shareholders is strong. This is due to Sam’s leadership, his discipline, and his unshakable belief in the ability of IBM and IBMers to lead into the future. Sam taught us, above all, that we must never stop reinventing IBM.”

Mr. Palmisano, 60, became IBM chief executive officer in 2002 and chairman of the board in 2003. During his tenure, IBM exited commoditizing businesses, including PCs, printers and hard disk drives, and greatly increased investments in high-value businesses and technologies. He has overseen the significant expansion of IBM in the emerging markets of China, India, Brazil, Russia and dozens of other developing countries, transforming IBM from a multinational into a globally integrated enterprise. In 2008, he launched IBM’s Smarter Planet strategy, which describes the company’s view of the next era of information technology and its impact on business and society.

Since Mr. Palmisano became CEO, IBM has set records in pre-tax earnings, earnings per share, and free cash flow. During Mr. Palmisano’s tenure, IBM increased EPS by almost five times, generated over $100 billion in free cash flow, and invested more than $50 billion in research and development – creating over $100 billion of shareholder value since 2002 through an increase in market capitalization and dividends paid.

As global sales leader for IBM, Ms. Rometty, 54, is accountable for revenue, profit, and client satisfaction in the 170 global markets in which IBM does business. She is responsible for IBM’s worldwide results, which exceeded $99 billion in 2010. She also is responsible for leading IBM’s global strategy, marketing and communications functions. Previously, Ms. Rometty was senior vice president of IBM Global Business Services. In that role, she led the successful integration of PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting — the largest acquisition in professional services history, building a global team of more than 100,000 business consultants and services experts. She has also served as general manager of IBM Global Services, Americas, and of IBM’s Global Insurance and Financial Services Sector.

Ms. Rometty joined IBM in 1981 as a systems engineer. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree with high honors in computer science and electrical engineering from Northwestern University.

Written by turbotodd

October 25, 2011 at 11:08 pm

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