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Behind the scenes with the legendary CEO
Jack Welch’s innovative leadership strategies revived a lagging GE, transforming it into a powerhouse with a staggering $300 billion-plus market capitalization. In writing Jack Welch and the GE Way, author Robert Slater was given unprecedented access to Welch and other prominent GE insiders. What emerged is a brilliant portrait that tells you what makes Jack Welch tick. Learn how to work the Welch magic on your own company as you find out...
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Behind the scenes with the legendary CEO
Jack Welch’s innovative leadership strategies revived a lagging GE, transforming it into a powerhouse with a staggering $300 billion-plus market capitalization. In writing Jack Welch and the GE Way, author Robert Slater was given unprecedented access to Welch and other prominent GE insiders. What emerged is a brilliant portrait that tells you what makes Jack Welch tick. Learn how to work the Welch magic on your own company as you find out how he dismantled the boundaries between management layers, between engineers and marketers, between GE and its customers to streamline the process of getting products and services to market.
Get details on Welch’s far-reaching Six Sigma quality initiative, and discover how its principles and standards can save billions of dollars...how and why he has made GE a truly global company (and why you must think global as well)...and all the other Welch "midas touch" strategies you can put to work in your organization, at every level!
But here and there, the concept of Work-Out began to catch on.
It began with someone having the courage to ask a question-and with a manager being willing to answer the question and change policy on the spot. Once the ice was broken, others in the audience overcame their timidity and raised their hands as well.
Work-Out was catching on at some of the GE businesses, but in the beginning there was no shortage of problems.
Union members, who naturally harbored suspicions whenever company executives came forward with an idea, any idea, viewed Work-Out with their usual skepticism. Some called the program "Jobs-Out" or "Heads-Out," convinced that Welch and his senior colleagues had a far more sinister goal for Work-Out. They were convinced that Welch sought to cut payrolls, not learn from workers on how to improve the company.
But it didn't take long for even these union members-as well as the other participants-to understand that Work-Out was no ordinary flavor-of-the-month management fad. They soon realized that Welch actually meant it when he declared that he wanted to tam over decisionmaking power to the workers.
Of course, not every Work-Out session ran like clockwork-, in some sessions, the program was little more than a glorified opportunity for workers to squeal on one another for such infractions as reading a newspaper or "hiding behind" a machine all day instead of working. But in other sessions, the boss was quickly put on the spot.
That's what happened to Armand Lauzon, the head of plant services at the GE Aircraft Engines factory in Lynn, Massachusetts.
We Have 108 Proposals for You
When Armand Lauzon was invited into the room to face Work-Out attendees on the third and final day of the session, he was forced to stand with his back to his boss. One by one, the recommendations of the group were placed before him for one of those three answers (yes, no' or I need more information), and it was clear to him that he was not supposed to make eye contact with his boss.
The group put 108 proposals in front of Lauzon that day, ranging from designing a plant-services insignia as a morale booster to constructing a new tinsmith shop. He said yes on the spot to 100 of the 108 proposals! One proposal was to let Lynn's employees bid against an outside vendor on new protective shields for grinding machines; evidently, an hourly worker had sketched the design for the shields on a brown paper bag. Lynn won the bid for $16,000, far lower than the vendor's quoted $96,000. The shields proposal was considered an ideal Work Out result: It saved GE money and brought work to the Lynn plant. This was no small feat for Lynn, since their employee rolls had been downsized by over 40 percent-from 14,000 in 1986 to 8,000 five years later.
One electrician felt no qualms about confronting his boss: "When you've been told to shut up for twenty years and someone tells you to speak up, you're going to let them have it." Not only did employee Work-Out proposals save GE $200,000 that year; they saved jobs as well.
Rattlers and Pythons
At some Work-Out sessions the facilitator broke work issues into two categories.
Rattlers and Pythons.
Raiders were the simple problems, the ones that could be "shot" like a dangerous rattlesnake, and solved on the spot.
Pythons were issues too complicated to unravel right away, just as no one could easily unravel a python entwined on itself.
One "rattler" involved a young woman who had been publishing a popular plant newspaper, but in doing so had encountered a wall of bureaucracy. GE policy required her to obtain an astounding seven signatures every month in order to get her newspaper published. She pled her case emotionally: "You all like the plant newspaper. It's never been criticized. It's won awards. Why does it take seven signatures?"
Her boss stared at her in amazement. "This is crazy. I didn't know that was the case."
"Well, that's the way it is," she replied.
"OK," the general manager said, "from now on, no more signatures."
The newspaper editor beamed.
Another factory worker tossed out another rattler. "I've worked forover twenty years, I have a perfect attendance record. I've won management awards. I love this company. It's put my kids through college. It's given me a good standard of living. But there's something stupid that I'd like to bring up."
The man operated a valuable piece of equipment that required him to wear gloves....
Part I: Act Like a Leader, Not a Manager.Embrace Change, Don't Fear It.
Posted February 27, 2001
Robert Slater does an outstanding job of putting to paper the 'revolutionary strategies' Jack Welch (and others at GE) uses in making GE the leading global company. Jack Welch's 'simplistic'and 'common sense' ideas about running a business-or empowering others to become leaders in the company, has increased GE's value by more than $200 billion and continues to grow, thereby earning GE status as the world's largest multibusiness company. Just as Welch's strategies are 'simplistic,' Slater writes this book in a 'simplistic' and very easy to read style. The book is heavily packed with quotes from the master--Jack Welch, as well as numerous other successful business persons. This is a 'must have' book for anyone interested in successful leadership, not only in business, but in any facet of their life.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 6, 1999
Living in Hawaii during the the Henry J. Kaiser era and the first hand information I saw and heard from various employees who worked for Mr. Kaiser,it seems that Mr. Welch 'borrowed' or implemented many of Henry J.'s basic concepts. Granted what Jack Welch did in the restructuring of General Electric was an amazing task in itself. A difficult job done very well! How Jack took G.E. over in the 80's and made it what it is today is mandatory reading for all. He did what he had to do for G.E. to make it the mega corporation that it is today. The only down side to the book is Robert Slater's glorification of Mr. Welch's concepts and theories. Mr. Slater should have read the biography of Henry J. Kaiser before giving all the hoopla to Jack Welch. It was Mr. Kaiser who practiced, 'Do it the best,do it faster,do it cheaper', way before Jack Welch. It was Henry J. who never believed in heavy upper management. Kaiser's communication with his staff and work force was so direct and personal that he gave you the feeling you were always in the 'Kaiser Family' from day one. He made his workers proud of their job and even prouder of their finished product. I will not dwell on Henry J. Kaiser's principles and work ethics, but before you read Robert Slater's book on Jack Welch, I suggest you take an hour of your time to read the biography of Henry J. Kaiser first.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 7, 2008
No text was provided for this review.