The GE Work-out: How to Implement GE's Revolutionary Method for Busting Bureaucracy and Attacking Organizational Problems-Fast! / Edition 1

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Overview

"Work-Out helped us to create a culture where everyone began playing a part, everyone's ideas began to count, and leaders led rather than controlled." Jack Welch, Jack: Straight from the Gut

Implement GE's legendary Work-Out technique for solving organizational problems fast and get fast, GE-like results in your organization

Bring together the employees and managers who understand a problem best ... Challenge them to develop creative solutions in a single day ... Immediately present and decide on those solutions in a public forum ... Empower people to carry them out within eight weeks ...

These are the basic tenets of GE's famous "Work-Out," the simple, powerful problem-solving technique Jack Welch used to revolutionize GE's bureaucratic culture and restore its standing as one of the world's most successful organizations. The GE Work-Out is a step-by-step guide to using Work-Out to quickly solve problems in your organization, break down obstacles to getting things done, and improve the way your organization works.

"The authors of this book helped us create Work-Out and incorporate it into the fabric of GE. Their book will help you adapt Work-Out to your organization with dramatic results." William J. Conaty, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, General Electric Company

"Every company, no matter its size, unknowingly builds an inventory of productivity-killing relics in its basement. Work-Out helps to clean them out and keep everyone focused on creatively meeting customer needs. If you want to keep your company fresh and vital, ask your managers to read this book and make Work-Out part of your firm's DNA." W. James McNerney, Jr, .Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, 3M

"I have seen the effectiveness of Work-Out in both business and government. When I was Governor of West Virginia, we found Work-Out to be invaluable to us in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of our state government." Governor Gaston Caperton

President, The College Board

"Making fundamental change in organizations is almost impossible, but GE has succeeded. The GE Work-Out explains GE's secret weapon for fast, performance-improving change." Jeffrey Pfeffer, Professor, Stanford Business School and coauthor, The Knowing-Doing Gap: How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge Into Action

The GE Work-Out provides hands-on examples and case histories to help you implement GE's heralded Work-Out methodology in your organization. Written by GE employees and consultants who were key partners in the creation and rollout of GE's original Work-Out program and unique in that it addresses Work-Out from both perspectives this no-nonsense book will help you develop a realistic understanding of what Work-Out can and can't do, as well as the attitudes that must be in place throughout any organization before Work-Out can be successful.

Work-Out has helped GE employees at every level cut through bureaucracy to solve small and large organizational problems quickly. Written by consultants and GE executives who helped develop the original Work-Out problem-solving technique, this practical book provides detailed information on:

The underlying principles of Work-Out

Planning, conducting, and implementing a Work-Out

Customizing Work-Out for your organization

Using Work-Out to develop effective, visionary leaders

Worksheets, tools, and case studies.

Work-Out has been used with dramatic results not just at GE but in many other organizations, including 3M, Home Depot, Sears, and the State of West Virginia. Its genius lies in harnessing the intelligence of the workers closest to a problem. The GE Work-Out shows you how to adapt Work-Out to your organization, break down hierarchy and red tape, and create an empowered workforce confident enough to envision and implement change whenever and wherever it is needed.

In today's speed-of-light global environment, endless committees and "It's how we've always done it" cop-outs are nothing less than a full-scale surrender, one that will both disappoint your customers and energize your competitors. The GE Work-Out will show you how to involve every member of your organization in solving the small but essential problems that are keeping you from becoming a world-class organization. Filled with worksheets, tools, case studies, and more, it is the first book to provide true, unvarnished directives for understanding GE's battle-proven Work-Out, then adapting it for and embedding it in your organization.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Many companies have adapted Jack Welch's now-famous strategies for running a business. Taking advantage of Welch's popularity (and expertise), this handbook lays out instructions for implementing GE's "Work-Out" method. Flexible in execution, the method calls for collecting large teams of employees for defining tough business decisions, then breaking into smaller teams to develop solutions. The small teams then meet with a manager in a "town meeting" to discuss their recommendations. The result is change that's brought about by employees themselves. Consultants Ulrich and Ashkenas, along with Kerr (a managing director of Goldman Sachs) were brought together by Welch to create the "Work-Out" method. (Apr.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Soundview Executive Book Summaries
A Team-Based Process for Addressing Problems
Work-Out is an internal process for addressing and quickly solving an organization's problems by utilizing the skills of the people who will be carrying out the process. It is a process that Jack Welch used to turn GE into one of the most successful companies in the world, and it worked wonders in helping GE find better ways to reach its customers, improve margins and efficiency, attract talent, utilize technology and beat the competition. The ideas found in the Work-Out process can also be applied to other types of organizations, and the authors of The GE Work-Out have written this book to demonstrate how. They write that it is not an overnight cure for every organizational woe, but it will help companies solve their problems faster, and eventually, it can become a basis by which an organization can develop skills and a culture that can help streamline operations for better agility.

How Does It Work?
How does Work-Out work? It starts when large groups of employees and managers from different levels of an organization come together to address various issues and concerns. Small teams are formed where people can voice their opinions about a problem, and come up with recommendations for improvements to "the way we've always done things."

These Work-Out teams present their recommendations to a senior manager in a "Town Meeting," where the manager leads the whole group in a discussion about the recommendations. Yes-or-no decisions are then made. Next, the recommendations that make it through this process are assigned to "owners" who volunteer to carry out the changes and follow through on them to getresults.

The Work-Out process helped to dramatically reduce bloated bureaucracies at GE by shortening meetings, reports and levels of approval, as well as substantially cut process times in product development and employee communication, among other positive changes. The process can also be applied to just about any other kind of organization, from General Motors to the state of West Virginia. Basically, the process revolves around getting the people who experience the problems involved in the solutions, using a public forum to decide on the solutions, and empowering the people who will carry them out.

The GE Work-Out begins with an overview of how this process evolved at GE, how managers and employees worked out its kinks, and the way they use it today. The book then delves into an explanation of why Work-Out is such a successful problem-solving tool for long-term transformation. To ensure that implementation of the process in your organization goes smoothly, the authors provide ways to help you get past resistance and move forward with the Work-Out.

The next section of The GE Work-Out provides a handbook for organizations that are ready to dive into the Work-Out approach. An overview of the system details the best way to create specific decisions, and how to move forward without losing ground.

Keeping the Plan Flowing
The authors remind their readers that this process will require some time to become ingrained in an organization, and they offer many charts and worksheets to help them keep the plan flowing. Tips for conducting the Town Meeting are combined with real-world examples of how other companies made progress. The roles and responsibilities of all the participants are also described, as are a number of variations in the process that have worked for others. A case study of Zurich Financial Services UK provides a detailed example of how Work-Out can deliver amazing results.

Long-term transformation is the topic of the book's last part, and it says that making Work-Out a natural component of an organization is the key to success. When the Work-Out is part of an organization's culture, the authors write that "natural acts" of better communication and decision making will naturally occur, and sluggish bureaucracies will naturally dissolve.

Why Soundview Likes This Book
The GE Work-Out provides a direct map to organizational transformation through a process that has taken many organizations into better communication and improved problem-solving. The lessons it delivers are thoroughly described, and inspirational messages of encouragement accompany the text to help smooth over rough spots on the path to implementation. The authors remove any uncertainty about the Work-Out process by organizing its principles, tools and actions into an easy-to-follow guide that not only makes using them easy, but provides a background for each step which makes that step seem logical and essential. Copyright (c) 2002 Soundview Executive Book Summaries

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780071384162
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing
  • Publication date: 3/25/2002
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 496,289
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.17 (d)

Meet the Author

Dave Ulrich is a professor of business administration at the University of Michigan School of Business and the author of the best-selling Human Resource Champions, Results-Based Leadership, and The HR Scorecard.

Steve Kerr is Chief Learning Officer and a Managing Director of Goldman Sachs. He was previously Vice President-Leadership Development and Chief Learning Officer for General Electric, with responsibility for GE's renowned Leadership Development Center at Crotonville.

Ron Ashkenas is the managing partner of management consulting firm Robert H. Schaffer & Associates, and senior author (with Ulrich, Kerr, and Todd Jick) of two previous books about GE.

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Table of Contents

GE's legendary Work-Out program played a key role in the company's phenomenal success over the past decade and has been implemented in many other organizations. Now four executives and consultants who developed the original Work-Out approach at GE (often working directly with CEO Jack Welch) discuss the inner workings of Work-Out and their experiences at successfully implementing the program at GE.

Filled with effective assessment and decisionmaking tools, The GE Work-Out provides concrete and realistic guidance for anyone who wants to implement Work-Out and break down bureaucracy and hierarchy within an organization.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2005

    Sound advice for delivering speed, simplicity, and solutions

    'Work-Out' is the famous organizational process that General Electric, the greatest industrial firm in the world, used to bust bureaucracy - fast. At its core, Work-Out is a simple, straightforward concept for cutting out bureaucracy and solving organizational problems - fast. Large groups of employees and managers - from different levels and functions of the organization - come together to address issues that they identify or that senior management has raised as concerns. In small teams, people challenge prevailing assumptions about 'the way we've always done things' and come up with recommendations for dramatic improvements in organizational processes. The Work-Out teams present their recommendations to a senior manager in a 'town meeting', where the manager engages the entire group in a dialogue about the recommendations and then makes yes-or-no decisions on the spot. Recommendations for changing the organization are assigned to 'owners' who have volunteered to carry them out and follow through to get results. That's Work-Out in a nutshell. Work-Out can be applied to almost any type of problem. It was first used at GE to harvest the low-hanging fruit of OVERGROWN BUREAUCRACY by getting unnecessary and unproductive work out of the organizational system - e.g. reduce meetings, reports, and approval levels. They asked what procedures didn't make sense? Where were they wasting time? What activities seemed to add little value? Some of the bureaucratic procedures were expense reimbursements, making travel arrangements, obtaining office supplies, updating personnel data, taking education courses, upgrading software, and more. But also in the core functions, bureaucracy was found: filling out forms for deals, preparing presentations for approval meetings, keeping track of customer data, obtaining approval for materials purchasing, overwhelming amounts of extra analysis to justify various investments or initiatives. Some of the results were e.g. that expense accounts did not need multiple approvals, people could purchase approved software without going through the IT department, and a pre-deal process was established to see if deals were worth pursuing before going through all the analytics. Work-Out has been successfully adapted to any type of organization - public or private, commercial or non-profit, large or small. In all of these organizations, no matter what the issue, the process remains much the same. 1. Bring together the people from the organization who know the issues best 2. Challenge them to develop creative solutions 3. Decide on the solutions immediately in a public forum 4. Empower people to carry them out Despite its massive impact on GE and other firms; Work-Out is not a snake oil or magic elixir. It is a simple set of concepts, tools, and experiences. When stripped to its essence, Work-Out allows people to get some obstacles out of the way so they can do their work better. In many firms, that alone would be a significant gain. The real merit of this book is the practical approach. If you are - as I am - struggling with the challenges of continually keeping our organizations lean, then this book can help you. It contains many inspiring worksheets, action plans, tools, and hands-on case studies. The authors of this book helped GE create Work-Out. So don't expect theoretical contributions. Only sound advice. Co-author Dave Ulrich is one of my favourite HR experts. I can recommend many of his books, e.g. `Results-Based Leadership' and `Delivering Results'. To him, HR is about delivering business performance and organizational capabilities. Cause if you don't, you'll soon be out of business. The tricky part is balancing the soft and hard part of HR. Dave Ulrich has many good concepts to make that happen. This book is not a bad place to start, if you'd like to pick his brains... Peter Leerskov, M.Sc. in International Business (Marketing & Management) and Graduate Diploma in E-business

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