By Jack Welch with Suzy Welch. Wall St Journal and New York Times Bestseller
“No other management book will ever be needed” Warren E. Buffett
Welch was CEO for 20 years… during his tenure the value rose 4,000% and his net worth grew to well over $500mn. Jack is a bit of a hero in management history after his 40yr stint at General Electric (GE). He led the company to year after year of success around the globe, in multiple markets, against brutal competition.
Hi no BS approach, with a relentless focus on people, teamwork, and profits really resonates with so many entrepreneurs. Hence his cult status.
The book is packed with anecdotes from his long career starting in the trenches and working his way to the top as both Chairman and CEO of a company employing 300,000 people. Co-founded over 100 yrs ago by Thomas Edison (yes the guy who is known for inventing the lightbulb).
Underlying all business is the goal to be great. Great businesses that thrive will hire more people and put more money into the community which has the spinoff of creating even more entrepreneurs.
Mission and Values: After all the airy fairy big statements, Welch has some pieces of advice that ring true for us.
- NEVER let profit center conflicts get in the way of doing what is right for the client.
- Give clients a good, fair deal. DO not try to maximize short-term profits at the expense of building those enduring relationships
- Always look for ways to make it easier to do business with us. (At the moment we’re trying to shorten the mortgage application process by days/weeks into a process that takes less than an hour by ruthlessly focusing on cutting time-wasting steps).
- Communicate daily with clients. If they are talking to you, they can’t be talking to a competitor (or just will not want to)
- Don’t forget to say thank you (our clients all receive handwritten thank you notes)
Jack’s biggest dirty little secret in business is Candour. He believes the lack of candour blocks smart ideas, fast action, and good people contributing all the stuff they’ve got. It’s a killer.
Basically you want to express yourselves! Talk openly and push for action candidly. Don’t soften blows too much. He says “my bosses cautioned me about my candour, and I’m telling you it was my candour that helped my career”. He was labelled abrasive and consistently warned (sounds like me). Seems it worked for him.
Hiring: What winners are made of
Hiring ‘A’ players requires you to find people with Integrity, Intelligence, and Maturity. You want people with positive Energy, the ability to Energize others, the Edge (courage to make yes-or-no decisions) and the fourth acid test is their ability to Execute.
Safe to say our guys meet the above 4 Es. Each of the 3 guys we’ve recently hired is adept and especially strong at specific things. These all rub off on the rest of the deal. I find it’s best to have hand of cards with a flush rather than four of a kind. This is what we’re trying to do with iRefi.co.nz
Welch goes on to talk about Passion and Authenticity, I especially like how he reminds the reader to surround themselves with people better and smarter than they are (I’m definitely doing that). Get the right players on board and don’t compromise.
Change: Mountains do move
Embrace 4 practices to maximise change… without it, nothing happens
- Attach every change initiative to a clear purpose or goal. Change for change’s sake is stupid and enervating (drains your energy).
- Hire and promote only true believers and get-on-with-it types
- Ferret out and get rid of resisters, even if their performance is satisfactory
- Look at car wrecks. Turn crisis in the market into opportunity.
Crisis Management: From OH-GOD-NO to Yes-We’re-FIne
“Manager can waste a lot of time at the outset of a crisis denying that something went wrong. Skip that step.”
First, assume the problem is worse than it appears….
Second, assume there are no secrets in the world and that everyone will eventually find out everything
Third, assume you and your organisation’s handling of the crisis will be portrayed in the worst possible light
Fourth, assume there will be changes in processes and people. Almost no crisis ends without blood on the floor.
Fifth, assume your organisation will survive, ultimately stronger for what happened.
One day, you’ll realise tomorrow has arrived, people will have moved on and the smoke will have cleared.
Strategy: It’s all in the sauce
“You pick a general direction and implement like hell. Strategy is a living, breathing, totally dynamic game. It’s fun – and fast. And it’s alive.”
When it comes to strategy, ponder less and do more.
First, come up with a big aha for your business – a smart, realistic, relatively fast way to gain sustainable competitive advantage.
Second, put the right people in the right jobs to drive the big aha forward.
Third, relentlessly seek out the best practices to achieve your big aha, whether inside or out, adapt them, and continually improve them.