By keeping the importance of the man in mind, I find that we can promote self-supervision and cooperation, which I consider the most important assets of any organization.
The man is more important to me than the title. Nearly every captain of American industry was “just a man” in some organization a few years ago and carries his title and position today because he proved to be the right kind of a man.
Every man in any organization should be taught that his most important duty to himself and his company is to cooperate with his fellow workers. He should be taught that, regardless of his ability, his efforts must mesh . . . without friction . . . with the other gears of the business machine of which he is a part, if he is to be of value to the organization.
Thomas J. Watson Sr., "Personality in Business," 1917
Somehow, I always find it interesting that what we take for granted in what makes a winning "sports" team, we fail to consider critical in building a winning "business" team: A disciplined, cooperative football "team" will beat a bunch of "franchise players" posing as a team any day of the week.
Peter E. Greulich
If Tom Watson's over usage of the word "man" bothers you, may I suggest the following link to understand his usage of the word "man" within the context of the day (1917) and what he did to advance women in industry?
This is a story adapted from an insight by Charles M. Schwab. The executive tale provides a unique perspective into what made the 20th Century IBM so great--building cathedrals, and what is causing the slow deterioration of the 21st Century IBM--laying brick:
Have you asked three employees what they are doing today? Are they earning a paycheck or building cathedrals? Yes, your employees own their self-motivation, but executives own the surrounding, cultural atmosphere that gives purpose to "laying brick."
Thomas J. Watson Sr. created at IBM an atmosphere of "Democracy in Business." Download and read this free article by Peter E. Greulich. It is his research into Watson Sr.'s philosophy of instilling a democratic spirit into his business--the 20th Century IBM.
"Democracy" can and should be your corporate atmosphere.
Build cathedrals: Manage By Wandering Around!
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In January of 1950, America’s press lit up with indignation over a Lafayette College benefactor’s last will and testament. His dying wish was to provide for his alma mater—as long as his benefaction did not provide scholarship money for a Catholic, a Jew, or any first-generation American.
A total sum of $140,000 brought to the forefront many of the same discussions we are still having seven decades later. Tom Watson Sr. was involved in this controversy.
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.