Subject – Organization Development
Assignment – GE Workout
Three activities are generally mentioned as being keys to General Electric’s success: process mapping, “best practices” benchmarking, and “workout” (Stewart, 1991). Workout is GE’s approach to intensive team problem solving. An organization contacted us with a desire to adapt a GE workout-type process for use in their organization. We believe our efforts to respond to our client’s questions and concerns about the process, the workout template we developed for them, and the lessons we learned from helping them implement that template offer insights into the workout process that consultants, academics, and managers will find useful as they consider offering, studying, and/or implementing a workout-type program.
General Electric is often held up as an example of a well-run, highly successful company (e.g., Kanter, Stein, & Jick, 1992). Readers of the popular business press are constantly served up anecdotes of GE’s success stories (e.g., Cosco, 1994; Quinn, 1994a; Sherman, 1993; Tichy, 1989). Three activities are generally mentioned as being keys to GE’s success – process mapping, “best practices” benchmarking, and “workout” (Stewart, 1991). Naturally, other organizations have become very interested in adapting these activities for their own uses (Quinn, 1994b; Stewart, 1991). Such was the case for an organization that contacted us with a desire to implement a GE workout-type process in their organization. The executive team had read about Jack Welch and GE (Tichy & Sherman, 1994) and some members had even heard Jack Welch speak in person. Yet, they were unsure of what workout would mean for their organization or how it would be implemented. Like most organizations, it was not nearly as big as even a single GE division, did not have as many resources as GE, did not have a dedicated training facility for such endeavors, did not have a tradition of employee