In its recent quarterly earnings announcement, IBM noted that the division built around Watson, the generalized artificial intelligence tool, experienced a revenue decline of -1% versus year ago. This is after a disappointing +3% growth in the prior quarter. The CEO of the company continues to tout Watson as the savior of IBM. Also, the company continues to field a very heavy advertising program behind Watson. The fact is, it appears Watson is out of gas, but the company keeps hyping it.
Bob's Gutsy Leadership Blog
Bob regularly writes blog posts and articles with his areas of focus being leadership, organizational effectiveness. Below you will find the titles and hot-links of his most recent efforts:
It is a psychological fact that if a deer is standing in the dark on a road and a car’s headlights shine on it, the deer is blinded momentarily and it freezes. The funny thing is, it happens not only to deer but to companies and people as well. Psychologists define the commonly used phrase “deer in the headlights” as “a state of indecision caused by surprise, anxiety, fear and confusion”.
While rarely getting public attention, Adobe, the maker of Photoshop and many other software tools, has been one of the great success stories in the technology sector in recent years. For perspective, its stock price was in the $45 range as of four years ago and today it trades for roughly $145. How did it do this? By wisely jumping on an important technology inflection point and overhauling how it provided customers its products.
On the surface, you would expect General Electric to be turning in good business results. Most of their divisions are very strong players in their industries, for example GE Aviation, GE Healthcare, GE Power, and GE Oil and Gas.
Tesla makes a very good car and has certainly created high interest in electric vehicles. On the other hand, it’s amazing how regularly the Tesla leader will over-promise and then under-deliver, getting the company into trouble with Wall Street investors. Recently he did it again. Let’s take a look at the details and see what leadership lessons might emerge.
The big news at Ford recently was the firing of the CEO who had been in place for three years. The stimulus for this is the fact that Ford’s business is suffering. Specifically, the first quarter of 2017 saw Ford’s pre-tax profits decrease by -35% versus year ago. Ford’s stock has under-performed GM’s by almost 25 percentage points over the past year. In the three year tenure of the departing CEO, Ford’s stock is down -37%.
Uber, the ride hailing service, has been a remarkable success. This competitor to the traditional taxi business now operates in 570 cities worldwide. On the other hand, the company faces an enormous number of issues, many of which are self-inflicted.
Whole Foods was founded in 1980 by its current Chairman and CEO and for three decades was the preeminent organic grocery brand. It was quite successful as consumers began to crave organic and natural foods. For years Whole Foods was able to command significantly higher prices for its organic alternatives.
Private equity (PE) firms are different. They invest in companies with the intent of quickly improving their efficiency and profitability. They then either sell the company for a big profit or keep it for a period of time, enjoying the cash flows that are coming from it. When they recruit talent, they are very disciplined in requiring specific traits they know are critical to success. Recently a massive study was done across 32 private equity firms to isolate those traits.
The primary job of a leader is to constantly assess the situation, develop an impactful plan that will make a significant difference, and then implement with excellence. Being a leader is not about simply managing a bunch of activities that enable you to participate in some manner in what’s going on in your industry. Unfortunately, that’s what the IBM CEO, who has been in the job five years now, seems to be doing.