A different perspective on unemployment from another great industrialist from America's 20th Century business leadership. Select image above or the icon below to read more about Owen D. Young, Chairman of the Board of General Electric Company.
Peter E. Greulich
Dangers of Data Centralization Circa 1971
“In this scatteration lies our protection. But put everything in one place, computerize it, and add to it without limit, and a thieving electronic blackmailer would have just one electronic safe to crack to get a victim's complete dossier—tough as that job would be.
"And a malevolent Big Brother would not even have to do that, he could sit in his office, punch a few keys, and arm himself with all he needed to know to crush any citizen who threatened his power.
“Along with the bugged olive in the Martini, the psychological test, and the spike microphone, the critics have seen ‘data surveillance’ as an ultimate destroyer of the individual American citizen's right to privacy--his right to call his soul his own.”
This was included in a statement from Robert P. Bigelow, Attorney at Law, Boston, quoting Thomas J. Watson Jr. before a U.S. Senate Congressional Hearing: "Federal Data Bank, Computers, and the Bill of Rights" on March 10, 1971
Two men—J. C. (James Cash) Penney and Thomas J. Watson Sr.—from uniquely different backgrounds founded two of the 20th Century’s greatest corporate brands. These two men seemed unlikely kindred spirits.
Select the image above or the link below to read the rest of the story: A Corporate 101 story.
Are the chief executives who are breaking up the largest and best of America’s corporations making the right decision?
Alfred P. Sloan would probably remark that the weakness in these institutions isn’t within the size and scope of their corporations, but in their top executives’ limited thinking and over-centralization of their organizations.
“It is often extremely difficult to get a man [an executive] in the frame of mind where he will gladly seek to gather from other people in the organization what would offset … his [or her] own weakness.
“Yet this must be done in a large organization to bring about a maximum of efficiency and effectiveness.”
Although this concept was not articulated directly by Watson Jr. when he reorganized the IBM Corporation after the death of his father, coordinated decentralization was at the heart of how the son kicked in the IBM’s growth afterburners.
It is a concept that should be revitalized before breaking up the largest and best of our old American, industrialist-built institutions: IBM, General Electric, and Johnson and Johnson. Industrialist-minded chief executives understand that larger is better … easier to control … and easier to manage with coordinated decentralization … Chief executives must empower their top generals to lead but be ready to exercise a "coordinating influence" when necessary.
Who are America's chief executives’ top counselors? Would they listen to Alfred P. Sloan?
The country needs more industrialist-minded leaders …
… like Alfred P. Sloan.
First, a person has to consider the source. If a spectator advises a boxer—as he enters the ring—to let his guard down, the outsider probably doesn’t have the pugilist’s best interests at heart. The timing of the advice betrays a concern over a wager, not the boxer’s safety.
Second, a person has to consider the setting. A young football player letting his guard down as he digs in to protect his quarterback is not good mental discipline; yet the same player must have the discipline—if he doesn’t want to repeat the same mistake on the next play—to hear the coach’s advice.
No matter the timing, an employee’s guard must come down to hear an executive. A true coach sets the right environment so that an employee will be most receptive to the message. To get a person to let down their guard, a consistent, predictable, and positive coaching action works best, not words.
Peter E. Greulich, Writer, Public Speaker and Self-Publisher
Under Tom Watson Sr.’s leadership, IBM weathered ten major economic declines, three major wars, and four of the six largest declines in U.S. stock market history.
And during all this economic, social, and political turmoil, IBM advanced through forty-two years of unprecedented technological change: it divested coffee grinders, candy scales, and cheese and meat slicers, and invested in time devices and tabulating machines; it followed the expansion of electricity around the world and transitioned its warehouse inventory from hand-cranked, spring-driven, standalone, time-recording devices to electrically-powered, dispersed and synchronized, time- and security-recording devices; and it shifted investment dollars from products that landed on the customer’s front counter to higher-value machines filling their corporate back offices.
Even though it was slow to the market, IBM then strengthened its position in those back offices with the acquisition of electric typewriter technology.
Tom Watsons’ learning process to achieve these results can be found in three major crises during his tenure as IBM’s traditional founder: The Crisis of 1914-15, The Crisis of 1920-21, and The Crisis of 1933-34 (the trough of the Great Depression).
Several of America’s greatest 20th Century industrialists mastered the art of the restart.
George Eastman, founder of the Eastman Kodak Company, had his moment of awakening looking out over a major distributor’s warehouse full of his company’s spoiled product; his restart, after more than 470 experiments to fix the problem, added a fifth principle to his business rules of engagement: control of the alternative.
This is the story of John H. Patterson's "restart" at the National Cash Register Company (NCR).
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.