Gerstner recognizes that decentralization is sometimes a good thing, but thinks in some ways the trend has gone to far in business—some business functions may be efficient to centralize:
(p. 246) I’m thinking here of common customer databases, common fulfillment systems, common parts numbering systems, and common customer relationship management systems that permit your customer-service people to provide integrated information about everything a customer does with our company.
On the surface it would seem that these are logical and powerful things to do in an enterprise. Nevertheless, they usually require profit-center managers to do something very hard—relinquish some of the control they have over how they run their business. Staff executives, consultants, or reengineering teams cannot do this without active line management involvement. The CEO and top management have got to be deeply involved, reach tough-minded conclusions, then ensure that those decisions are enforced and executed across the enterprise. It takes guts, it takes time, and it takes superb execution.
Reference to the book:
Gerstner, Louis V., Jr. Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance? Leading a Great Enterprise through Dramatic Change. New York: HarperCollins, 2002.