Author(s): Jack Welch, Suzy Welch
Jack Welch’s life is the standard American Dream – son of a Railroad conductor, born into poverty, worked his way through school and college. Then worked for General Electric – probably the most admired company ever – for 41 years starting 1960 and was CEO for 20 years from 1981 to 2001.
He shares innumerable lessons in this book across 20 chapters.
The 2nd chapter called Candor is his “THE BIGGEST DIRTY LITTLE SECRET IN BUSINESS”. He says:
“From the day I Joined GE to the day I was named CEO, twenty years later, my bosses cautioned me about my candor. I was labeled abrasive and consistently warned that my candor would soon get in the way of my career. Now my GE career is over, and I’m telling you that it was candor that helped make it work. So many more people got into the CANDOR game, so many voices, so much energy. We gave it to one another straight, and each of us was better for it.”
Being frank and giving it straight to people is the name of the game. However, as you and I know, it is not easy. Welch says:
“Now for the really bad news. Even though candor is vital to winning, it is hard and time-consuming to instill in any group, no matter what size.”
Yet, you have to bite the bullet. He says:
“But it’s really very simple – candor works because candor unclutters.”
Chapter 4 is” Voice and Dignity”. One of author’s cherished beliefs is:
“Every person in the world wants voice and dignity, and every person deserves them.”
Fed up of the bureaucracy in GE, he invented the “The Work-Out”:
“These were two- or three- day events held at GE sites around the world, patterned after New England town meetings. Groups of thirty to a hundred employees would come together with an outside facilitator to discuss better ways of doing things and how to eliminate some of the bureaucracy and roadblocks that were hindering them.
The boss would be present at the beginning of each session, laying out the rationale for the Work-Out. He or she would also commit to two things: to give an on-the-spot yes or no to 75 percent of the recommendations that came out of the session, and to resolve the remaining 25 percent within thirty days.
The boss would then disappear until the end of the session, so as not to stifle open discussion, returning only at the end to make good on his or her promise. Tens of thousands of these sessions took place over several years, until they became a way of life in the company.”
16 more chapters with many such illuminating examples! Hope you get to enjoy this book.