The book Winning by Jack Welch was written in 2004. It is a straight forward book that goes into all aspects of running a business and becoming a successful leader. The author was the CEO of General Electric for over 20 years. Welch retired in 2001 and spends his time traveling around the world giving speeches, answering questions and giving advice about how to be able to run a successful business. After a couple of years of touring and giving advice he decided to put it down on paper and wrote the book Winning. Welch takes a look at every level of a business, whether it is a large or small company, the philosophy and practices should be the same.
The book is divided into four sections. The first section is called Underneath It All and it takes a look at missions, values, using candor, differentiation and voice and dignity. The second section is called Your Company and has sections about leadership, hiring, people management, parting ways, change and crisis management. The third section is titled Your Competition and deals with strategy, budgeting, organic growth, mergers, acquisitions, and six sigma. The fourth section is about Your Career. It discusses areas such as finding the right job, getting promoted, hard spots and having a work-life balance.
UNDERNEATH IT ALL takes a look at what goes on behind the scenes is getting a business up and going. The one thing that stood out to me in this first section and is mentioned time and time again throughout the book is candor. Welch has talked about using candor for over twenty years and is amazed that it is not used as much as it should be. Welch actually calls the lack of candor “the biggest dirty little secret in business” (p. 25) Welch believes that people should not be afraid to say things like they are. Say what you feel, etc. He believes that a company will run much better with candor going on. Welch has a theory about candor that he calls the Candor Effect. There are three parts to the candor effect. The first part has candor getting more people talking and sharing ideas which brings an advantage to any business. The second part is that candor can generate speed. Things will happen much faster when it is out in the open. The third part of the candor effect is that candor can actually cut costs. When people aren’t afraid to express themselves, things can get done much faster and more efficiently which will save money in the long run. Welch also knows that it is hard for many to go with candor because people like to be nice to others and not necessarily speak their mind.
Along with candor in the first part of the book is a chapter about missions and values that a company needs. A good mission statement must answer the following question according to Welch, “How do we intend to win in this business?”(p. 14) On page 15 Welch says that “effective mission statements balance the possible and the impossible.” A good mission statement and values won’t happen overnight. They take a lot of time and energy to develop and get into practice. To be successful there has to be a big commitment to make it work. The top of the companies are the people who should be responsible for the mission statements since they ultimately will be the ones responsible for whether things go the way they should or not.
Probably one of the most interesting parts of the first section of his book is the chapter entitled Differentiation. Welch breaks down the type of employees a company has and what their roles should be. He has a 20-70-10 theory about people. The top 20 percent are the people who get the bonuses, praise, etc. for their performances. The middle 70 are sort of middle of the road and the majority of the employees. Some of them able to be pushed up to the top 20 and some of them are just the average but still very important to the success of the company. They must feel they are important in their own way to make a...