Jack Welch and the GE Way: Management Insights and Leadership Secrets of the Legendary CEO


Go 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...

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Jack Welch & The G.E. Way: Management Insights and Leadership Secrets of the Legendary CEO

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Go 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!

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
In this often-cited business classic, Robert Slater, a leading authority on Jack Welch's philosophy of management, provides readers with practical tips and strategies that will enable them to work the Welch magic in their own organization.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Slater has written two previous books on General Electric chairman and CEO Jack Welch (The New GE, 1992; Get Better or Get Beaten!, 1994), so readers might wonder whether hard-driving Welch, stoic pioneer of downsizing, has anything new to add. Slater does not disappoint in this conversationally written, solid manual that, despite its promotional hype and adulatory tone, distills Welch's business philosophy--an amalgam of Zen-like axioms, bromides and tough-minded pragmatism--in a way that will reward managers at all levels who seek to create a learning environment and transform learning into action. Companies would do well to heed Welch's advice on how to foster an open-ended, informal work atmosphere that will encourage employees to speak out, breaking down the walls of hostility between managers and subordinates. Interweaving snippets of interviews with Welch, Slater (biographer of investor George Soros) competently traces GE's transition from manufacturing to a service-oriented enterprise, its takeover and turnaround of NBC, its expansion into financial services and overseas markets. Editor, Jeffrey Krames; agent, Chris Calhoun at Sterling Lord Literistic. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Since Jack Welch assumed the position of CEO at General Electric in 1981, the company has soared to the top of the Fortune 500, with a market capitalization in excess of $250 billion. As Welch now nears retirement, it is useful to get another look into his thinking. The book shows his continued ability to find useful ideas and motivate his employees. (LJ 9/1/98)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781932378436
  • Publisher: America Media International
  • Publication date: 8/15/2004
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Abridged, 4 CDs, 4 Hrs. 30 Min.
  • Pages: 4
  • Product dimensions: 5.88 (w) x 4.99 (h) x 0.99 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Slater has over 25 years of experience with Time, Newsweek, and UPI. He has written a number of bestselling business books, including Ovitz: The Inside Story of Hollywood's Most Controversial Powerbroker; Get Better or Get Beaten! 31 Leadership Secrets from GE's Jack Welch; The New GE: How Jack Welch Revived an American Institution; and Soros: The Life, Times & Trading Secrets of the World's Greatest Investor.
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 17: Create An Atmosphere Where Workers Feel Free to Speak Out

At First, as the Work-Out program got under way, the invisible walls between managers and employees remained firmly in place, inhibiting a free-flowing dialogue. The chains of history and tradition were too strong to be sundered so quickly. Employees had no experience in advising bosses on how to improve the business-and no previous incentive to do so. It just hadn't been done before. So, at the start, there were many awkward silences.

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....

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Table of Contents

Part I: Act Like a Leader, Not a Manager.
Embrace Change, Don't Fear It.
Stop Managing, Start Leading.
Cultivate Managers Who Share Your Vision.
Face Reality, Then Act Decisively.
Be Simple, Be Consistent, and Hammer, Your Message Home.
Part II: Building the Market-Leading Company.
Be Number 1 or Number 2, But Don't Narrow Your Market.
Look for the Quantum Leap!
Fix, Close, or Sell: Reviving NBC.
Dont Focus on the Numbers.
Plagiarize—It's Legitimate: Creat a Learning Culture.
Part III: Forging the Boundaryless Organization.
Get Rid of the Managers, Get Rid of the Bureaucracy.
Be Lean and Agile Like a Small Company.
Tear Down the Boundaries.
Part IV: Harnessing Your People for Competitive Advantage.
Three Secrets: Speed, Simplicity, and Self-Confidence.
Use the Brain of Every Worker—Involve Everyone.
Take the "Boss Element" Out of Your Company.
Create an Atmosphere Where Workers Feel Free to Speak Out.
S-t-r-e-t-c-h! Reach for the Stars!
(and more...)
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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2001

    Jack Welch and the GE Way

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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