Bestselling author Janet Lowe presents the insights, visions, and philosophies that have guided Jack Welch during his extraordinary career at GE and his post-GE life,
Change before you have to. Welch says changing before a company is forced to do so is about as easy as changing a tire while the car is still going down the road. It’s both risky and bound to create controversy.
Welch initiated a 2 phase revolution at GE. In the “hardware” phase, Welch restructured GE’s basic businesses by selling ,buying, and downsizing ; and during the “software” phase, he shifted the corporate culture and employee mind-set. A company can boast productivity by restructuring, removing bureaucracy and downsizing, but it cannot sustain high productivity growth without cultural change.
Shun the incremental and go for leaps. Incremental change doesn’t work very well in the type of transformation GE has gone through. If you change isn’t big enough, revolutionary enough, the bureaucracy can beat you. Look at Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt. They said “This isn’t what it’s going to be” And then they did it. Big bold changes, forcefully articulated.
When you get leaders who confuse popularity with leadership, who just nibble away at things, nothing changes. I think that’s true in countries and in companies.
GE learned about “bullet train thinking” from the CEO of Yokogawa, GE’s Japanese partner in the medical systems business:
“He says if you want to increase the speed of the bullet train 10 mph, you add a little more horse power… But if you want to take it from 150 mph to 300 mph – double the speed of the bullet train – you’ve got to think about whether or not you widen the track, change the suspension system. You’ve got to think out of the box. It’s not the same train with a little more tweak. It’s a whole new thought”