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My IBM Career

I've sometimes thought I should write a book about my career with IBM. I have lots of experiences that made an impact on me. Some funny, some pathetic. Anyway, I've just written some of the more memorable stuff down.

Big Screw Ups
Getting Hired
Jet Pilot Engineering
Facilities Engineering
People I've worked with
Working In Sales
I lost my job twice
40 Yeas of service

December 17, 2010

I received the "Outstanding Technical Specialist for 2010" award in October. I received the plaque today and a Vivitar digital video recorder. I took the photo with the camera - its not much. Actually, its pretty crappy. I had a number of different items to choose from for the gift. I didn't realize how crummy this camera would be or I could have chosen something else. My bad.

Regarding the award, I've been saying that after 33 years you would expect me to finally have the job figured out.

It's rather always like this when you receive a reward. You feel like you've been doing the same job all along, and this month, or this year, things just fell into place, perhaps as much as anything because of the other folks you were working with, and botta bing, you get an award. You feel a little sheepish about it.

But I remember the wise words of Jerry McKenna way back when I first started selling and I got an award, and I was expressing to him these same feelings, and he said, "Just remember, you're never as good as your best day, and never as bad as your worst." Those words rang very true to me and I have remembered them all through my career. Thank you Mr. McKenna!

Oh, you can see the clock on the wall behind me in the photo, that's my 25 years of service award. I got to pick that as well. Better choice than the camera. I especially like it when the little grandkids are here and notice the chimes point and say, "Clock!"

February, 12, 2021

After 43 year and 7 months, I've retired from IBM. I never imagined that I would be here for 43 years, until I got to more than 35. And even now, I left to take another job. I could have stayed longer, but IBM is not much fun anymore. And I was actually wanted at another company, and I think I can make the same money, so why not?

God, through IBM provided a wonderful income for me and my family. It was a very special place to work for much of the time. In the 70s, 80s and 90s, practically every American and much of the world knew of IBM. It was highly regarded for both it's products and business, but also for the work environment. Starting in the 90's the began to change, and all of that has continued to decline.

There are plenty of people today that have never heard of IBM. It is not known for it's business strength or as a particularly good place to work. I would say that it is average in terms of a good place to work. It's secure, but infested with a top down culture where the employees are neither trusted or appreciated.

So it is sad to look back and see the decline of IBM, and especially painful to have lived it. I am thankful to have had the career, and experience the truly exceptional times, and sad to experienced the decline and the disappointing work environment that it has become. Maybe the decline was inevitable, but I'm pretty confident that Thomas Watson Senior or Junior would agree with that.

My personality inclines me to catalogue here all of the poor management actions I've seen the past 5-10 years, but it would serve no purpose, so I will save my time and yours. I think the big picture is that as the business performance got worse and worse, IBM management's reaction was to more and more micro manage the employees. Their assumption is that they clearly could not be the problem, and therefore it must be the knuckleheaded employees. So if we more tightly control what they are doing (starting with more and more reporting of what they are doing) then we can make things get better. In my view, the outcome of this was exactly counter to what they wanted. Rather than recognizing that they hired a bunch of really smart folks, and trusting them to do an excellent job, they stifled creativity, and wasted a lot of peoples time. Very sad.