• Who Says Elephants Can't Dance?

  • Inside IBM's Historic Turnaround
  • By: Louis V. Gerstner Jr.
  • Narrated by: Edward Herrmann
  • Length: 8 hrs and 29 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (890 ratings)

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Who Says Elephants Can't Dance?  By  cover art

Who Says Elephants Can't Dance?

By: Louis V. Gerstner Jr.
Narrated by: Edward Herrmann
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Publisher's summary

In 1990, IBM had its most profitable year ever. By 1993, the company was on a watch list for extinction, victimized by its own lumbering size, an insular corporate culture, and the PC era IBM had itself helped invent.

Enter Lou Gerstner. The presumption was that Gerstner had joined IBM to preside over its continued dissolution into a confederation of autonomous business units, effectively eliminating the corporation that had invented many of the industry's most important technologies. Instead, Gerstner took hold of the company, making the bold decision to keep it together, defiantly announcing, "The last thing IBM needs right now is a vision."

Told in Lou Gerstner's own words, this is a story of an extraordinary turnaround, a case study in managing a crisis, and a thoughtful reflection on the computer industry and the principles of leadership. Summing up his historic business achievement, Gerstner recounts high-level meetings, explains the no-turning-back decisions that had to be made, and offers his hard-won conclusions about the essence of what makes a great company run.

©2002 Louis V. Gerstner, Jr. (P)2002 HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Critic reviews

"A well-rendered self-portrait of a CEO who made spectacular change on the strength of personal leadership." (Publishers Weekly)
"Edward Herrmann's pacing and understated connection with the material in this memoir makes the audio seem compact and relaxed. The writing is also outstanding, lacking excessive pride or self-congratulation....An essential volume for anyone interested in technology, large organizations, or IBM's miraculous rebirth under Gerstner's leadership." (AudioFile)

What listeners say about Who Says Elephants Can't Dance?

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Moderate Start, Picks up FAST!

Upon starting this book, I felt like I was listening to a rather large ego telling me how great he was. But it rapidly became a great listen. I found his discussion of the evolution of the computer industry, and how IBM had to re-invent itself to fit the new paradigm, clear and true to what I've watched happening in the IT world.

Disk 5 was outstanding in his discussion of how he expected managers to be part of the solution, not spectators and supervisors of it. And his views on where the internet is going are extremely insightful.

A Must-Listen that finishes strong. A sure winner for anyone with an interest in IT, IT Companies, or our Business world and its IT components.

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11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Deflated

I was unexpectedly disappointed by this book. After reading the glowing reviews from others, I expected an inspiring, insightful review of the amazing things done at IBM in one of the most remarkable turn-arounds ever -- my hopes were deflated. What I got out of this was a combination of kind words for those long time IBMers who helped, and advertising for IBM's positioning for future stock growth. Mr. York's role in achieving the turn around was grossly under-promoted, as few of the structural cost improvements would have been achieved without him, and there was little insight shared on how Mr. Gerstner came to determine the specific changes that were made. Further, the last third of the book is spent delivering Mr. Gerstner's political perspective on everything from schools to charitable contributions. Not a recommended read.

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7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Quite stimulating

An intellectually stimulating book. Well written and well narrated. An excellent one to listen to for leaders and employees of large institutions.

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6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Great Book, But I'm Biased

I loved this book. I have been a huge fan of IBM since my younger years and was aware of the possible breakup of "Big Blue" in the early 90's. I didn't even have a clue as to how bad it was though. Amazing to see how some of the old guard behemoths get bogged down with the "that's the way we've always done it" attitude and slowly sink into the dinosaur tar pits. Gerstner did a miracle if you ask me after having listened to his accounts of internal processes and procedures gone mad. I recommend the unabridged for those that like to hear it all, and I am not a business book person. I especially liked the narrator selection.

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3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Engrossing

As someone who was working at IBM up to just prior to the time covered in this book, I found it engrossing as well as very indicative of the situation at the time. This book is an excellent discourse on corporate culture and how change has to occur from the top to be effective. Having lived through some failed attempts at other companies, this is a good blueprint with anecdotal history of how a company goes about properly re-inventing itself.

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2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent narration!

Excellent story. Well written. Hard to put down. Learned a lot about large corporations and how difficult change can be.

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Compelling

Just to start off, I enjoyed the narration. It felt like it gave the book the right feeling.

As for the content itself, I found this to be compelling and engrossing. I didn’t think I could view management in so many ways. Yet, all these principles, values, and beliefs made complete sense to me. I felt empowered to find passion in my work and to continue improving myself in order to help solve problems. I strongly recommend it.

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Spectacular

Inspiring, must read, full of significant thoughts. A real truly executive experience. You will finish this book wanting to continue.

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

simply inspiring

i don't know if everything mr. gerstner wrote is 100% true. it hardly matters, as many lessons on how to view your company and how to make the best out of it were taken from the book. the book taught me practical ways to look at a dismal situation and turn it around for the better.

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • JB
  • 06-30-23

Insightful

Very insightful view from behind the scenes of a CEO with a transformational challenge! Great read with key points on change.

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