In a behind the scenes conversation with Alan Rothman of BOS, the former CEO and Chairman of Control Data, Robert M. Price, drew on 40 years at the forefront of the computer industry and illustrates how today’s business leaders and entrepreneurs can apply it. He explains the principles that transformed those 34 employees into a company with 45,000 people with revenues topping $1 billion in less than 14 years from its start. And by August of 1968, an initial investment of $10,000 grew to be worth $6.3 million.
The starting point for this conversation was based on a review of The Eye for Innovation: Recognizing Possibilities and Managing the Creative Enterprise (Yale University Press) in which Mr. Price shared the insights and experiences he has experienced at the helm of his organization.
Price argues that innovators are made, not born, and what made Control Data so successful was based on creating a culture of innovation using sometimes radical business techniques, that today’s companies can apply:
- Outmaneuver Giants: When Control Data filed an anti-trust lawsuit against IBM, Control Data’s small team of lawyers was able to reach a settlement valued at $700,000 ($3.1 billion in 2004 dollars) that helped fuel Control Data’s growth. Control Data also helped its case by developing an information database system specifically for litigation support in antitrust actions.
- Innovation Needs to be Another “Line Item”: Policies and budgets for stimulating innovation are needed as much as other corporate planning. Boards and/or management need to audit innovation efforts and provide the personnel and finances to support those initiatives.
- Face the Ugly Facts: Control Data learned that innovation and determination cannot overcome all obstacles. In the mid 1980s when the company hit a financial and management crisis, Robert Price made the hard decisions to return the company to profitability by 1987, and the investment community responded with rising stock prices.
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“Control Data forged a heritage of innovation that lives on as a compass for the company of the future.” Hear it revealed in Rothman’s probing questions that inspired Price to reveal the inside secrets that can be applied for your own success!