Lou Gerstner Unveils His Battle Plan

A year ago, when IBM's directors recruited Louis V. Gerstner Jr. to be the crippled giant's chief executive, it looked like a signal for radical change--a clear break from the ancien regime. In many ways, the outsider lived up to those expectations. Instead of dragging out the torture of downsizing the bloated company with another annual cutback, Gerstner engineered a massive--and he says, final--bloodletting that resulted in an $8.9 billion loss. He brought in outsiders to head finance, human resources, and the critically important IBM Personal Computer Co. And he set about obliterating some of Big Blue's most self-defeating traditions. "We have been too bureaucratic and too preoccupied with our own view of the world," he writes in the just issued annual report. Also, he notes, the company had earned a reputation for arrogance, "but it's not going to happen on my watch."

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