"Success is the greatest test of character.
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Mr. Buck Rodgers, an amazing IBM executive marketing manager, defined the type of Wild Duck that was known within IBM as a "Royal Dissenter."
After years of study and experience around Wild Ducks, I often wonder: What is harder:
For me it is the latter.
I do believe, though, that IBMers of the 20th Century had an easier time being a wild duck than today's employees. Why? Because in a Watson Sr., Watson Jr., T. Vincent Learson, or Frank T. Cary administration, we knew the corner office had our backs.
Come hell or high water, they had our backs!
I think 21st Century Royal Dissenters at IBM would be wise to follow Kierkegaard's advice:
"If what the wild goose tried to do is to be commended in any way, then it must above all watch out for one thing--that it hold on to itself. As soon as it notices that the tame geese have any kind of power over it, then away, away in migratory flight."
In simple words: Find another company to work for! Fly away from the tame ducks—geese.
"In our hatred of war—in our repudiation of rule by force which means enslavement—we still cannot forget those ennobling traits of human character which alone can carry men forward to victory, when war is thrust upon us. … Weakness cannot cooperate with anything.
"We have got to be strong."
It is this last quote that reminds me of IBM's Open Door policy from the 20th Century. It seems that we IBMers knew that if we could just get the information to one of the Watsons ... everything would be alright. Then again, so did first-line and middle management who made it a point to seriously consider all their actions in the area of human relations.
Select the icon below to read the full book review of John Gunther's "Eisenhower: The Man and the Symbol."
Peter E. Greulich
Pete has been studying IBM and early American corporate history since his retirement in 2011. These are his thoughts and musings, and of those whose biographies he has read with links to articles and book reviews on this website.