IBM Employees Respond to John Akers' Criticisms

Manhasset, N.Y. -- July 26, 1991 -- Only weeks after an angry talk given by IBM chairman John Akers on the company's performance was publicized, IBM employees held an electronic "town meeting" to discuss his comments. A digest of those comments have been obtained by InformationWeek and excerpts will appear in the publication's Monday, July 29, issue.

While a few of the participants in the electronic meeting - ranging from veteran executives to rookie programmers...believe IBM is making good progress, a great many more are disappointed with their employer, according to the story, titled "Backlash." IBM, the employees say, is made up of employees who are frustrated, middle managers who are too ambitious for the company's good, and senior executives who are out of touch. They say IBM's products are high in price and low in quality. Cooperation between divisions is rare, it not nonexistent, and management's attention drifts far from customer concerns. More than a few employees believe the root of IBM's problems is Akers himself.

As the magazine reports, the electronic conference - or "forum," in IBM lingo - was started by an IBM manager in late May to give IBMers a chance to comment on Akers' talk. Akers had made remarks earlier to an IBM Advanced Management Seminar; a manager who attended the class took notes and distributed them electronically to a group of colleagues. Those notes were later removed from IBM networks, but not before they had been publicized.

Akers, the notes reveal, scolded employees for allowing IBM to lose market share, for missing deadlines, for being "too damned comfortable at a time when the business is in crisis," for traveling too much and wasting too much time in meetings, and for producing low-quality work.

Akers would not comment directly on the employees' electronic forum. According to a company spokesman, he has already replied to the concerns through comments he made in a recent issue of Think, the company's in- house magazine. In that article Akers said, "Many IBM employees are executing perfectly, but I think there are some people who are still working what they perceive as a 'business as usual' environment."

Following is a selection of comments IBM employees made in their electronic forum that will be published in InformationWeek:

On John Akers:

On IBM Management Practices:

On IBM Products:

On IBM And Its Customers:

On IBM's Bureaucracy:

On the Need for Change Within IBM

InformationWeek, published by CMP Publications Inc., is the weekly newsmagazine targeted directly at those executives who oversee the computer and communications systems in the county's largest corporations.  It has a national circulation of more than 170,000.

CONTACT: Laton McCartney, editor-in-chief, 516-562-5427, or Peter Krass, senior writer, 212-686-7851, both of InformationWeek

Copyright 1991 PR Newswire Association, Inc