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April 23, 2007


Sarah Siegel

Dear Irving, as usual, your ideas in your blog, and whenever I've been privileged to see you in 3-D, are wise; I'm commenting here, though, particularly on the first line of this post, about your imminent retirement.

When I joined IBM's Internet Division in 1996, I posted a whimsical photograph of you from "Wired" magazine on my wall as inspiration, and it has traveled with me to every office I've inhabited since then, even as I've gone on to work in a range different of divisions and business units.

In my experience, you have always been, in parallel, among the most brilliant and most humane of IBM senior leaders. I'm smiling, recalling your dialogue with Robert Redford onstage at PartnerWorld a few years ago.

And I'm smiling especially, recalling your agreement to be the kickoff speaker in a series eight years ago on How to Be an IBM Leader, where the company's employee diversity network groups co-sponsored the series on leadership tips by IBM leaders from historically-underrepresented groups.

When Maria Hernandez and I met with you prior to the talk, you asked, "What would be helpful for me to say to your [gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT)] constituency, Sarah?"

"Just say the words somewhere during your talk. It will be powerful for the GLBT people in the audience to hear a senior leader being explicitly inclusive."

And you did, and it was!

As a bonus, your blog helped inspire me to launch mine....I guess the 2-D version of you has inspired me as much as the 3-D version. Thank you for your continued inspiration and I wish you further great adventures in your emeritus role.

Peder Burgaard

Dear Irving,

I am current doing my thesis on IBM's 3D Internet & Virtual Business Opportunity EBO, where the introductory section on business cycles might interest you. Furthermore, the excellent works of Clayton Christensen "The Innovator's Dilemma & The Innovator's Solution" give insight to business cycles from a perspective of low-end disruptive among others.

Your post about life cycles of businesses are almost up the ally of Schumpeter and his book Business Cycles (1936), and creative destructions of innovation that an invention unleashes from those affected in the environment. Business Cycles is a mammoth work and covers the rise and fall of several industries in the U.S., UK, and Germany.

There are other economic cycle theorist too which you might have read, though I am not an economist, I would encourage you to do so.


Ricardo Rendón

Estimado Irving,

Se me hace más fácil expresarme en español, felicidades por tu retiro y la aportación que hiciste en tantos campos.

Tuve el gusto de conocerte en México cuando era CIO de Hylsamex, ahora también retirado sigo haciéndo algo de enseñanza y consultoría.

Nuevamente felicidades


Simon Rodan

Dear Irving

There is academic research going back 30 years that considers businesses as entities in an ecological system. The first in the is steam is Hannan, M. T. and J. Freeman (1977). "The Population Ecology of Organizations." American Journal of Sociology 82(5): 929-963. It is interesting that you reached a similar conclusion independently.


Simon Rodan

Thomas William Deans

Dear Irving:

I think that the the last three words of your essay that cite the "will to live" are central to IBM's long term success. Whether you know it or not, The Will to Live is close to Nietzsche's Will to Power -- a philosophical concept outlined in Thus Spake Zarathustra. Nietzsche described the secret to longevity as the self awareness required to destroy that which you have created and re-deploy the proceeds in that which has yet to be invented. Others, like the Autrian economist Joeseph Schumpeter, talk about creative destruction and how out of a self-imposed transformation --a process that is never ending-- comes radical innovation. This is precisely what IBM has done so brilliantly --it is what explains its unusual longevity. Family business --the area that I write and give public lectures, lack this transformational drive. The act of gifting a business to succeeding generations destoys the Will to Power -- destroys radical transformation as gifted assets are treated like family heirlooms --never to be changed. The second and third generation business almost always destroy themselves without purpose as they give rise to what I describe as a "curator class" of owner managers. The enevitable death of these businesses lack intentionality and sadly reflect, hubris and entitlement --qualities seldom if ever culturally engrained in non-family businesses like IBM.

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PRODUCT life have four basic stages 1st is louche 2nd is growth 3rd is maturity and at last the product decline...and IBM business cycle is very fantastic..

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Business in not a limited field. It has unlimited and uncountable branches. Every person has his own aspect of describing business. For example some person describe business as a way to generate revenue some says business is a life blood of this society and millions of other concepts exist. I enjoyed reading your 37 years experience. Great !!

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