October 2003. We had a couple of issues of our new trade publication, Automation World, out into the world. There were two user conferences the same week that month. Foxboro (Invensys at the time) held its meeting in Houston. Emerson Process gathered users in Orlando.

Co-founder Jane talked it over with me. “I’m more acquainted with Emerson, so why don’t I go there, and you go to Foxboro?” OK. I found myself in Houston while she was in Orlando.

TLDR—I was in the midst of product meetings when my phone rang. Jane. “You’re got to get here.” What? “They want to talk with you.” So, I found a department store in downtown Houston to buy a shirt and underwear. Online, I found a way to fly to Orlando and then back home from there.

I wish I’d have had this new book, Turning The Giant: Disrupting Your Industry With Persistent Innovation, by former Emerson Process CEO John Berra then. I knew very little, well actually almost nothing, about Emerson at that time.

Marketing Director Bill Morrison conducted a person tour of everything at the exhibit hall. And thus began a 10-year relationship with many really smart and nice (at least to me) people. And I saw a lot of technology development over those years along with increasing market reach.

And Berra is the only other man I’ve run into who also played Bellomy in The Fantasticks in community theater.

After he retired, I asked John if he would write a column for Automation World, which he did until the month I left the magazine. 

Berra’s book takes a look at his career in control and automation with the stories of companies he worked for and how Emerson Automation all came together. The central theme looks at overcoming challenges (Giants) leaders will face and must overcome. It’s interesting for those of us within the industry. It is also useful information for new would-be leaders about how not everything goes smoothly and what to do about it.

Since I reported post 2003, I’d have liked more details. I understand he had to fit it into his theme, though. Even if you were an ardent Emerson competitor back in the day, it’s worth a read for the background of today’s market. And the leadership lessons are worth the price of the book.

Share This

Follow this blog

Get a weekly email of all new posts.