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Jack Welch's approach and principles to business
on 18 May 2005
Jack Welch was General Electric Chairman & CEO from 1981 to 2001 and is seen as one of the greatest business leaders of the 20st Century. Since his retirement in 2001 he has been travelling the world and spreaking to thousands of people during and following the promotional tour of his autobiography "Jack: Straight from the Gut" (2001). In this book he attempts to answer the questions which were asked during that tour. The book is split up in four parts, plus an introduction and a concluding chapter.
In the first part - Underneath It All - Welch lays out the substructure of principles to his approach to business. "... the four principles are about the importance of a strong mission and concrete values; the absolute necessity of candor in every aspect of management; the power of differentiation, meaning a system based on meritocracy; and the value of each individual receiving voice and dignity." Each principle is discussed in a separate chapter. In particular his discussions on the subject of candor is enlightening and should be an important lesson to all organizations and industries.
Part II - Your Company - discusses the mechanics of organizations. In the six chapters of this part Welch discusses leadership, hiring, people management, parting ways, change, crisis management.
In Part III - Your Competition - which describes the world outside your organization. The five chapters discuss the creation of strategic advantages, meaningful budget and target setting, growth through mergers and acquisitions, and a discussion on Six Sigma.
Part IV - Your Career - discusses managing the arc and the quality of your professional life. Welch discusses finding the right job (from first job through to the right job at any point in your career), getting promoted, and working for a bad boss. In the final chapter he discusses work-life balance whereby he explains what bosses think about the matter.
The last chapter discusses issues that he was unable to fit into the four parts. He answers 9 questions that he was asked during his tour. They range from questions about his golf game (Welch has stopped playing after 60 years in the game), AIDS through to whether Welch thinks he will go to heaven ("Now, that was a question that stopped me!")
Yes, I do like this book. It is a lot different to his autobiography although he uses some of the same examples. It is straight to the point and the advice is implementable and realistic. It follows a good layout and has some good checklists. There are fantastic one-liners in each and every chapter, but there is not enough room to put them all down in this review. It is not a traditional management book as such since the writing style is a lot different (which is not necessarily a bad thing) and very practical. Highly recommended.