September 21, 2013

Jack: Straight from the Gut - Jack Welch - Book Review

Hi Guys,

I have always found it difficult to start an Autobiography and even more difficult to finish it. For the first time, I found an autobiography interesting and finished it very quickly. It all started with a case study for Strategic Management class. I was very impressed, borrowed the book from library and finished it in 3 days in my term break.

The book is more than a history of personal life. It provides a larger view on General Electric and how Jack Welch transformed GE with his leadership. He goes deep into many events and how he acted upon them and how he enabled people to perform better.

The book starts from his younger age and how his mother was his role model. He says his mother taught him an important lesson that if you can’t lose, you can’t win. Then he goes on into this education and how he joined GE in its Chemical Department in 1960s. The interesting fact is that Jack disliked GE and wanted to get out of it due to the bureaucracy. But, he stayed on selling himself to go into higher positions and went into the corporate office pretty soon.

He gives the full account of how the race to CEO was and how difficult it was for the candidates and how he made it. After becoming the CEO, he wants to move GE from the position of a ‘Giant Tank’ to ‘Agile Speed boat’. He describes about his Neutron Jack years, where he sacked many employees, sold many businesses and acquired many.

Then he moves on to how he improved the people side of the firm with Crotonville centre, stock options and so on. He moves on to describe how he continued to learn and introduced ‘Boundaryless’ term in the firm that enabled ideas to flow across. He continues to describe the main strategies that GE took in his years – Globalization, Services, Six Sigma and E-business. He says as a firm they have only 4 major transformation in the 20 years.

He says that it was people who did things, not strategy or machines. He writes, ‘In Manufacturing, we try to stamp out variance. With people, variance is everything’ He writes how he made good people stay back and poor people get out before worsening the system.

From the book, we know that Jack Welch is a guy who you won’t come across very often. He knew what he was doing. He didn’t wait, plan and do. He acted swiftly and he says that in the end he felt he waited a lot before getting into it. He understood business, he understood people and he enabled them. He is a great inspiration to all those people who want to run companies.

Many of the people focus on improving processes, reducing costs, building brands. But Jack says that it is people who matters most and it is an important lesson to all the young management grads. He writes in the end, ‘Great people, not great strategies, are what made it all work’

Happy Reading!

1 comment:

  1. Seems like a very good book giving insights into how a company should ideally be run. Unfortunately, even I have difficulties starting autographies! But I love the fact how he has emphasized on the fact that its PEOPLE who run the company and they are responsible for its successes.


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