PEG 2013 Apr 5: IBM exec quoting an old internal imperative to not rock the boat with (disruptive) innovation.  I shared my experience with the cluster at LLNL.  Upon waking I mused over the truth behind my dream.

Outside of the portion of IBM’s history heavily influenced by Thomas Watson, Jr. (an enneagram type ‘7’ – a rarity amongst top IBM executives), new-to-IBM innovation (as opposed to invention) has come to market despite not because of the efforts of the executives.  These flashes of brilliance in what I call “enterprise entrepreneurship” are because IBM has always hired great people and some of them find ways to buck and/or game the system long enough to bring innovations to market.

Phil Hester and company in Austin definitely went against the grain – for the RS6000 announcement in early 1990, the undertakers were in New York while the cheerleaders were in San Francisco along with most of the press.  Those of us working the announcement were instructed to refute press implications that the RS6000 would cannibalize the AS/400 market – though we (the AIX zealots) had every expectation that it would.  Manufacturing started in Austin, moved to Kingston, then to Poughkeepsie, and then on to Rochester MN.  Just recently IBM announced that Power manufacturing in Rochester was moving down to Mexico.  The “Free Willy” poster…  Later on Austin (Ted Scardamelia and company) tried to bring out the Shared Memory Cluster but got gunned down by the Poughkeepsie crowd.  (The “I Like it 4 Ways” pins…)  Over time those innovators disappeared (many left IBM).

The ADSTAR storage division under Dale Pilgrim is another example.  Chris x created a slush fund (driving the accountants nuts) so he could fund new storage system innovations out of the profits from established products in his portfolio.  This allowed him to get around the first-year-neutral-PTI standard for product introductions.  Lou Gerstner became CEO and put the kibosh on ADSTAR’s spinoff plans; Dale and Chris left and their innovations were shuttered for literally several years.  The facility that they worked out of in San Jose (with easy proximity to the Mass Storage Lab then based at LLNL) was part of a business sale to Hitachi.

“The Innovators Innovator” GBS campaign didn’t mean that IBM was eating its own dog food.  Quite the opposite.

PEG 2013 Jan 1: Dancing with a shirtless BB Wolf.

PEG 2013 Jan 1: Help stabilizing the girls and the unintended guffaw.

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