Get Better or Get Beaten!: 31 Leadership Secrets from Ge's Jack Welch

Overview

GE's John F. Welch knows a thing or two about change, about management, about getting things done. In 1981, when Welch took over as CEO, GE was only 10th in market value among American public companies. By 1993, GE sales had surged to $60.6 billion and the company was sharing the market lead with the likes of Exxon and AT&T. How did Jack Welch do it? The answer: Welch implemented a tough but flexible agenda that contained some of the very best business ideas corporate America had ever seen. What if you could ...
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Overview

GE's John F. Welch knows a thing or two about change, about management, about getting things done. In 1981, when Welch took over as CEO, GE was only 10th in market value among American public companies. By 1993, GE sales had surged to $60.6 billion and the company was sharing the market lead with the likes of Exxon and AT&T. How did Jack Welch do it? The answer: Welch implemented a tough but flexible agenda that contained some of the very best business ideas corporate America had ever seen. What if you could take some of those ideas and apply them to your own corporation, your own management style? What if you knew the secret to Jack Welch's success? Get Better or Get Beaten! examines 31 of those secrets in a fast-paced, easy-to-digest format that reads like a "manager's little instruction book." Here are the personal beliefs, bywords, principles, and techniques that helped Jack Welch become the most respected CEO in America.

General Electric's Jack Welch--a.k.a. "Neutron Jack" and "The Toughest Boss in America"--is as notorious as he is respected. Now readers can tap the source of Welch's courage, innovation, and success, in this guide that reads like a manager's "little instruction book."

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Slater's second book on General Electric's chief executive officer Jack Welch in a little over a year appears to be based on his reseach for the previous work, The New GE: How Jack Welch Revived an American Institution ( LJ 10/1/92). Slater's intent is to create a ``manager's little instruction book'' from 31 of Welch's ``secrets.'' These ``secrets,'' e.g., aphorisms such as ``managing less is managing better'' and ``go for the quantum leap,'' are marginally interesting insights into Welch. Often, direct quotes from Welch are used to explain what he means, but the ``secrets'' are not fully developed. If one wants to understand Welch better, Noel Tichy's Control Your Destiny or Someone Else Will ( LJ 1/93) is probably a better book. Recommended only for comprehensive collections.-- Michael D. Kathman, St. John's Univ. Lib., Collegeville, Minn.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786311323
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Companies, The
  • Publication date: 9/28/1997
  • Pages: 155
  • Product dimensions: 5.42 (w) x 8.02 (h) x 0.58 (d)

Read an Excerpt


Leadership Secret 5: Take A Hard Look At Your Overall Business, AndDecide As Early As Possible What Needs Fixing What Needs To Be Nurtured, What Needs To Be Jettisoned!

Only a decade before Jack Welch took over as chief executive officer (in April 1981), General Electric was steaming full-throttle for a crisis that almost no one acknowledged.

Just a handful of General Electric's 150 business units were number one or number two in their markets (lighting, power systems, and motors).

Plastics, gas turbines, and aircraft engines were the only GE businesses doing well overseas. And only gas turbines had market leadership overseas.

Despite gleaming balance sheets in the 1970s, GE appeared headed for the shoals.

As late as 1970 as much as 80 percent of General Electric's earnings still came from its traditional electrical and electronic manufacturing businesses. Yet manufacturing was on the slide.

The company's successes were plastics, medical systems and financial services. But these businesses contributed only one-third of the total 1981 corporate earnings.

Finally, a number of GE's businesses such as aircraft engines often used up more cash than they produced.

GE's troubles were linked to the changing global business environment.

In former times, America had held sway over the most important markets of the world economy, whether in steel or textiles, shipbuilding or television, calculators or automobiles.

Then, with few taking notice, others, especially the Japanese, started to take away clients, seducing them with higher-quality products at cheaper prices.

Smokestack America was crumbling, and one dismal sign was in the steel industry, which in 1982 lost $3.2 billion. In parallel, the Japanese had grabbed 20 percent of the American market. What was happening in steel was felt as forcefully in the American car industry.

America's consumer electronics industry also failed to read the signals coming from across the Pacific. By the time it understood that Americans had a voracious appetite for videocassette recorders it was too late. The Japanese had cornered the market from the start.

With the arrival of the 1980s, the American economy looked increasingly unhealthy. Inflation, only 3.4 percent in 1971, had climbed to 18 percent in March 1980.

Other signs of distress were in evidence.

The price of oil, only $1.70 per barrel in 1971, peaked at $39 per barrel in 1980.

Auto and truck production, reaching 8 million vehicles In 1971, slid to a mere 6.4 million by 1980.

Still the highest in the world, American productivity outpaced the West Germans and the Japanese in 1979; yet it had been slowing since the 60s.

In 1979 the United States ranked only 10th in annual per capita income ($10,662) among members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Not surprisingly, America headed for a recession in the summer of 1981.

The United States had to become not only more productive, but also more aggressive in competing for business around the world.

World trade stood at $2 trillion in 1981 and was expected to grow dramatically over the decade. Yet thousands of American companies were not exporting.

Only 1 percent of American firms accounted for 80 percent of the country's exports.

Nine out of 10 American companies did not export at all.

Jack Welch's business ideas were a response to the changes in the global business environment.

The changes had come slowly, almost imperceptibly.

Before, only the American marketplace had counted: The remainder of the world economy appeared inconsequential. It was possible for companies like General Electric to flourish.

Yet, by the 1970s, changes were occurring. The "rest of the world" no longer seemed microscopic, irrelevant.

Welch, however, sensed correctly that the business arena had been growing larger and increasingly competitive: A whole new array of enterprises with international pretensions were popping up around the globe.

Jack Welch recognized all of these momentous changes long before others did.

When he became the chairman and chief executive officer of GE in the spring of 1981, he could have pretended

  • The 115-year-old business icon over which he was about to preside would continue to sell its light bulbs and refrigerators and turbines regardless of the changes occurring in the American business environment.
  • GE, with its 350 business units, was so diversified, so solid, so capable of absorbing the ups and downs that were normal to any economy, that little could bother the company's steady financial climb.

HE COULD HAVE CHOSEN TO STICK His HEAD IN THE SAND. BUT HE DID NOT.

Only by acting, by reshaping the corporation, did he believe there was a chance that General Electric would emerge stronger in the 1980s and 1990s.

Welch alone believed that a revolution was needed inside GE to weather the stormy ocean of economic and competitive challenges.

For companies like GE to survive in such a rapidly shifting environment, a whole new vision was needed, an entire new set of business strategies.

Others inside GE and outside scoffed at Welch. They insisted changes were not needed, that in time all would be well.

After all, this was a company that at the start of the 80s had been generating $25 billion in sales-and $1.5 billion in profits.

GE employees and business analysts alike greeted him at first with disdain and disbelief and outright fear.

Here was someone tampering with sacred tradition, fixing something that was not broken, playing with fire.

And yet, had other business leaders acted as Jack Welch did, had they followed one of his most important leadership secrets, they might well have avoided the crises that afflicted their companies in the early 90s.

That secret-Jack Welch's leadership secret 5-was this:

TAKE A HARD LOOK AT YOUR OVERALL BUSINESS, AND DECIDE AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE WHAT NEEDS FIXING, WHAT NEEDS TO BE NURTURED, WHAT NEEDS TO BE JETTISONED!

Jack Welch had a gut instinct that something needed fixing.

I could see a lot of (GE) businesses becoming. . . lethargic. American business was inwardly focused on the bureaucracy. (That bureaucracy) was right for its time, but the times were changing rapidly. Change was occurring at a much faster pace than business was reacting to it.

Others saw the virtue of a decentralized organization. But Jack Welch saw only chaos.

Others found orderliness in GE's bureaucracy. Welch complained that the company's bureaucracy was excessively sluggish.

Others were convinced that layers upon layers of management created the best possible command-and-control system.

But to Welch, those layers were merely wasting precious time and spinning their wheels, losing sight of their basic purpose.

The old organization was built on control, but the world has changed. The world is moving at such a pace that control has become a limitation. It slows you down. You've got to balance freedom with some control, but you've got to have more freedom than you ever dreamed of.

Because it had businesses in so many different fields, General Electric was bound to be affected by what was going on across the oceans....

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Table of Contents


Page iii
Leadership Secret 1
Change, Before Its Too Late!
Page 1
Leadership Secret 2
Look Reality In The Eye And Don't Flinch!
Page 1
Leadership Secret 3
Be Ready And Eager To Rewrite Your Agenda!
Page 1
Leadership Secret 4
Managing Less Is Managing Better
Page 5
Leadership Secret 5
Take A Hard Look At Your Overall Business, And
Decide As Early As Possible What Needs Fixing What
Needs To Be Nurtured, What Needs To Be Jettisoned!
Page 8
Leadership Secret 6
Face Reality!
Page 15
Leadership Secret 7
Don't Pursue A Central Idea But, Rather, Set Only A Few Clear, General Goals As Business Strategies.
Page 15
Leadership Secret 8
Be Number One Or Number Two!
Page 20
Leadership Secret 9
Downsize, Before It's Too Late!
Page 26
Leadership Secret 10
In Deciding How To Change Your Business, Nothing Should Be Sacred!
Page 26
Leadership Secret 11
When Seeking The Right Marketplace, There's No Virtue In Looking For A Fight. If You're In A Fight, Your Job Is To Win. But If You Can't Win, You've Got To Find A Way Out.
Page 26
Leadership Secret 12
Create A Culture, Then Spread It!
Page 38
Leadership Secret 13
Don't Get Stuck In The Past! Be Open To Change!
Page 44
Leadership Secret 14
Reexamine Your Agenda Constantly And, If Necessary, Rewrite It!
Page 44
Leadership Secret 15
Transfer Ideas And Allocate ]Resources And Then Get Out Of The Way.
Page 50
Leadership Secret 16
Make Sure Everyone In Your Business Gets All The Information Required To Make Decisions.
Page 50
Leadership Secret 17
Provide An Atmosphere Where People Can Have The Resources To Grow, The Educational Tools Are Available, And They Can Expand Their Horizons.
Page 50
Leadership Secret 18
Delayer: Get Rid Of The Fat!
Page 59
Leadership Secret 19
Express A Vision, Then Let Your Employees Implement It On Their Own!
Page 66
Leadership Secret 20
Act Like A Small Company!
Page 73
Leadership Secret 21
Go For The Quantum Leap!
Page 77
Leadership Secret 22
No Matter How Great The Resistance, Get Those Costs Down!
Page 86
Leadership Secret 23
Get Faster!
Page 98
Leadership Secret 24
Remove The Boundaries!
Page 105
Leadership Secret 25
Search For The Synergies Between Your Businesses- Strive For Integrated Diversity
Page 105
Leadership Secret 26
Empower Your Workers!
Page 114
Leadership Secret 27
Create An Atmosphere Where Employees Feel Free To Speak Out
Page 121
Leadership Secret 28
Listen To The People Who Actually Do The Work!
Page 128
Leadership Secret 29
Eliminate Unnecessary Work!
Page 128
Leadership Secret 30
Go Before Your Workers And Answer All Their Questions!
Page 134
Leadership Secret 31
Aim For Speed, Simplicity And Self-Confidence!
Page 140
Table A
Ge Values
Page 150
Table B
Geips 3600 Leadership Assessment
Page 152
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