The Eagle Blog

Book Review – "Winning" by Jack Welch

Winning is written by Jack Welch and, whether you love him or hate him, the guy has real experience in running large (huge) corporations successfully … unlike many other authors who can be somewhat academic.

Welch’s book applauds winning as being positive at many levels … causing companies and individuals to thrive and grow, creating jobs and more opportunities for everyone. The winners can give back to society through the taxes they pay, but also by supporting charities and the communities in which they live and operate.

Welch talks a lot about ethics, and the need to win fairly while maintaining high ethical standards. He has a whole section devoted to the mission and values of a company and the need for them to be embodied in corporate culture … not just words on a wall.

He also talks about winning at the personal level as well as the corporate level and how they are intertwined, for example the success of a sales person can have a direct affect on the success of a company.

The book is really about how to win and Welch has some clear ideas about what it takes. He is a straight talker and advocates that for everyone … the term he uses is candor, and the need to foster candor in the corporate environment eliminating a lot of “politics”.

Welch’s focus at GE was that every business line needed to be number 1 or 2 in its market, or have a plan to get there. The alternative was to sell or disband that unit. In terms of people he talks about three categories (1) the top 20% of performers … a group it is key to keep and motivate; (2) The middle 70% or the “lifeblood” of the company that management needs to keep engaged; and (3) the bottom 10% … who have to go!

Welch has opinions on just about every aspect of running a successful business, from Leadership to hiring & firing, from people management to crisis management. On strategy he talks about finding the “big idea”; about finding the right people; and about finding and applying best practices.

Welch has thoughts on budgeting, he talks about organic growth and mergers and acquisitions with some pitfalls to avoid. Of course he spends time talking about quality and more specifically Six Sigma, for which is a well known advocate.

Welch even has career advice and some work-life balance thoughts that most senior managers would agree with. Worth a read, if only for a glimpse inside the mind of one of the most successful CEOs of our time.

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