Skip to content

Surviving Until You Are 100

June 15, 2011

The Economist (June 11th – 17th) has an interesting article acknowledging the IBM Corporation’s 100th birthday. It points out that relatively few companies survive that long – especially if they are in an innovative sector such as technology.

So what led to that success? In the end, it appears to have been adaptability; but the article points out that it wasn’t about adapting core products, but instead it was about an idea. What set IBM apart from many companies was its mission ‘to package technology for use by businesses’. It was not committed to any specific technology or concept – although a couple of times it almost fell into this trap, first with the punch card, then with mainframes.

The Economist goes on to ask which companies in the technology sector are likely to emulate IBM’s achievement – and it does not rate the chances of Dell, Cisco or Microsoft very high. But what really interested me about this article was its relevance to ‘professional associations’. I realised that the success of IBM goes a long way to explaining the growth of IACCM, which is also founded around an idea rather than a specific ‘product’.

Unlike many associations, IACCM does not seek to promote a job role (although it does equip people to perform). Its vision is built around enabling successful trading relationships – an attribute that is fundamental to human prosperity, rather like IBM’s. In doing this, it crosses traditional functional boundaries and is not (in the words of Gary Hamel) ‘held hostage by its captive audience’.

Those words of Hamel were, interestingly, uttered to John Akers, then CEO of IBM. And they were a warning about the need to move on from the highly profitable mainframe and to embrace networked technologies and services. I was fortunate to be at the center of that particular transformation at IBM – and the principles of adaptability have resonated with me ever since.

So for those who are interested in trading relationships and want to remain highly relevant to the organizations and careers of the future, IACCM has become an obvious choice. It equips them with the research and ideas to cope with the future. It makes me confident that we will be celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2099 – though I regret I won’t be able to observe it!

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: