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All for One: 10 Strategies for Building Trusted Client Partnerships by Andrew Sobel

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10

Strategy Eight: Promoting Collaboration

Creating a Whole That Is Greater Than the Sum of the Parts

A Tale of Two Firms

When Lou Gerstner became IBM's CEO in 1993, he took the helm of an iconic American company that had lost its way. It had become internally focused, its business units did not collaborate with each other, and customers were crying out for help to run the complex equipment and systems that IBM sold them. Gerstner oversaw a dramatic shift in the strategy and culture of the company, instilling a client-centered, collaborative ethos throughout its ranks. IBM has subsequently thrived, and today it is a leader in using collaborative technologies to connect employees with each other and with clients. Many of its most innovative ideas, from outsourcing to on-demand consulting, have been inspired directly by clients.

Goldman Sachs, as famous in finance as IBM is in technology, presents an instructive counterpoint to IBM's story. Historically, Goldman Sachs has assiduously cultivated and reinforced a culture of collaboration, unlike competitors such as Morgan Stanley, which has emphasized a “star system” and business units that compete with each other. Goldman's strategy has been to grow organically rather than through lateral hires or by acquisition. Its compelling value proposition—tremendous financial rewards combined with a teamwork environment—is the glue that draws people to the firm and keeps them there. It has a transparent performance evaluation and compensation ...

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