Making the World Work Better - The Ideas that Shaped a Century and a Company
One simple way to access the impact of any organization is to answer the
question: how is the world different because it existed?
This is the opening line in the new book about IBM to mark its 100th
anniversary. I’ve just received a copy of the book and have read the foreword
by Sam Palmisano. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the book
and will post a review of it on my blog when I’m finished. The answer by the
The stories in this volume provide a fascinating set of answers, and an even
more intriguing set of yet-to-be-answered questions.
I celebrate my 22nd anniversary working for IBM this summer. I can honestly
say that I’ve enjoyed my job and the various challenges I’ve been trusted to
own. The best part about working for IBM is the people. One of the things that
Sam mentions in his foreword is that it has been sometimes intimidating to work
with such intelligent people. I love working with the smart people who I’ve met
who work at IBM, are partners with IBM, customers of IBM, and best of all, IBM
Champions or Gold Consultants. I don’t always feel at par with these people,
but luckily for me, I’ve still felt completely accepted.
This week as we celebrate IBM’s centennial, IBM world-wide has many planned
events. Here in Toronto we have a celebration planned for Thursday that include
a BBQ lunch for employees & retirees, presentations by special guests,
Centennial videos, and an IBM artifacts exhibit. I’ve volunteer to help
decorate the building for the event and am looking forward to celebrating with
IBM has also encouraged every single employee in the world (more than 400,000
people) to donate 8 hours to some charitable event. I haven’t signed up for an
event yet, but some of the options include tree planting, judging science
projects, and acting as a leader at a children’s technology day camp. I love
that we’re doing this. As I mentioned above, I find that IBMers are quite
intelligent and I like that we are able to give back to the world to help make
it work better!
A few months ago I blogged about
IBM’s centennial and provided links to the very creative videos that were
created to celebrate. I strongly encourage you to check out these videos. This
blog entry also mentions IBM Watson, the super computer that competed on
Jeopardy in February. What a happy coincidence it has been to have IBM Watson
gain so much attention in 2011… the year IBM turns 100. This just shows you
that “we’re not dead yet”.
During all the media events surrounding IBM Watson, there was a video made
on TED.com (Technology, Entertainment, Design) that I strongly
recommend that you watch:
The impact of a machine like Watson will be felt throughout business,
government and society. Join the conversation to find out how the IBM team
achieved this historic feat and chat live with IBM Watson Principal Investigator
Dr. David Ferrucci, IBM Fellow and CTO of IBM’s SOA Center for
Excellence; Kerrie Holley and Columbia University Professor of Clinical
Medicine; Dr. Herbert Chase, hosted by "Final Jeopardy, Man vs Machine and the Quest to Know
Everything" author Stephen Baker.
I rarely watched TED videos before this one, but now I’ve been enjoying the
many videos that are available on many topics. Today the featured videos was
Not only is IBM Watson mentioned but so are many really amazing technology
advances in the field of medicine. The world has so much promise with so many
smart people trying to make it work better!
Here are the details of the book, that is available for purchase at Amazon
and other bookstores:
by Kevin Maney, Steve Hamm, Jeff O’Brien; foreword by
Thomas J Watson Sr’s motto for IBM was THINK, and for more than a
century, that one little word worked overtime. In Making the World Work
Better: The Ideas That Shaped a Century and a Company, journalists
Kevin Maney, Steve Hamm, and Jeffrey M. O’Brien mark the
Centennial of IBM’s founding by examining how IBM has distinctly contributed to
the evolution of technology and the modern corporation over the past 100 years.
The authors offer a fresh analysis through interviews of many key figures,
chronicling the Nobel Prize-winning work of the company’s research laboratories
and uncovering rich archival material, including hundreds of vintage photographs
and drawings. The book recounts the company’s missteps, as well as its
successes. It captures moments of high drama – from the bet-the-business gamble
on the legendary System/360 in the 1960s to the turnaround from the company’s
near-death experience in the early 1990s.
The authors have shaped a narrative of discoveries, struggles, individual
insights and lasting impact on technology, business and society. Taken together,
their essays reveal a distinctive mindset and organizational culture, animated
by a deeply held commitment to the hard work of progress. IBM engineers and
scientists invented many of the building blocks of modern information
technology, including the memory chip, the disk drive, the scanning tunneling
microscope (essential to nanotechnology) and even new fields of mathematics. IBM
brought the punch-card tabulator, the mainframe and the personal computer into
the mainstream of business and modern life. IBM was the first large American
company to pay all employees salaries rather than hourly wages, an early
champion of hiring women and minorities and a pioneer of new approaches to doing
business--with its model of the globally integrated enterprise. And it has had a
lasting impact on the course of society from enabling the US Social Security
System, to the space program, to airline reservations, modern banking and
retail, to many of the ways our world today works.
The lessons for all businesses – indeed, all institutions – are powerful: To
survive and succeed over a long period, you have to anticipate change and to be
willing and able to continually transform. But while change happens, progress is
deliberate. IBM – deliberately led by a pioneering culture and grounded in a set
of core ideas – came into being, grew, thrived, nearly died, transformed itself…
and is now charting a new path forward for its second century toward a perhaps
surprising future on a planetary scale.
Article: IBM Patent: 100 Years of High-Tech Innovations
I know several patent holders and Master Inventors who work at IBM: Sam
Lightstone, Mike Winer, Cathy McArthur, Joanna Ng,
Arthur Ryman, Andrew Trossman, Mark Wilding, Danny
Zilio, and Calisto Zuzarte.
I read an interesting article on eweek.com about IBM’s patents: IBM Patent: 100 Years of High-Tech Innovations.
They listed 10 important patents and I was surprised by some of what they
picked, including Ultraviolet Surgery! From the Centennial films we learned that IBM invented
the punch card, UPC codes, airline reservation systems, and much more.
IBM has been earning many patents every year, but recently has surpassed 5000
patents in a single year! IBM inventors received a record 5,896 U.S. patents in
2010—which marked the 18th consecutive year the company topped the list of the
world’s most inventive companies.
Even if you’ve watched the two Centennial films already, I encourage you
watch them a second or third time. The films are well done, educational and
very inspirational. See my blog for links to the films: Some Important / Cool IBM Events in 2011. Fmore
details about the 100 most influential innovations and why they made the list,
Happy Centennial IBM!