When IBM CEO Sam Palmisano kicked off a nationwide speaking tour celebrating IBM's 100th anniversary at Johns Hopkins University? recently, he ended up devoting a chunk of this time explaining a company decision made more than half a decade ago. How could the corporation that in most people's minds is synonymous with computers have sold its PC division to the China-based Lenovo Group??
The answer, he said, is simple. In 1981 when IBM introduced the PC it was an innovation. Twenty years later it had lost its differentiation. "It was time to move on," Palmisano told his audience, "to the future." This is the crux of the matter for American business in the 21st century: at the end of the day, the real money is made in innovation.
In order to thrive in a globalized economy, our companies must operate with a sense of adventure, with imagination, and — most critically — with an unrelenting focus on innovation.
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