On June 16 IBM turns 100 years old - the same year it reaches $100 billion in sales. An interview conducted with IBM CEO Sam Palmisano by Forbes' publisher Rich Karlgaard reinforces many of the behaviors we have found in companies that have made it to the century mark. Palmisano says Tom Watson Sr., legendary IBM CEO, "believed if you really created value and not just technology you could be around a very long time. That is more enduring than just getting big."
When asked how he balances short-term and long-term financial goals, Palmisano explained: "We don't run IBM in quarterly cycles, even though there's tremendous pressure to do that, to give quarterly guidance within a penny. You certainly have to make your numbers. But I just feel it is wrong for the long term to run a company like that. That's why...we came up with our road map....to communicate to investors, as well as its employees, about the long term."
CEO since 2002, the people on Palmisano's management team are company veterans: "All the people who work for me today have been here 25 or 30 or 35 years," he says - a common profile seen in companies who are members of the century club.
Palmisano readily acknowledges the last 100 years have not all been smooth sailing - the early 1990s were particularly tough - but by refocusing on what they do well ("deep analytics....that's what IBM does....that's what differentiates us") they are proudly celebrating their 100th year positioned well for the second century.