Jack: Straight From the Gut is a business and management book written by Jack Welch. The book follows the career of General Electric CEO Jack Welch from his early days as a GE engineer to his rise to CEO. Welch stresses the importance of people, originality, creativity, and common sense while sharing his thoughts on what it takes to be a great leader.
‘People first, strategy and everything else second’
Welch admits he did not have detailed plans for where he wanted the company to go, only that he knew how he wanted it to ‘feel’. Creating a new culture among 400,000 employees and 25,000 managers with layers of bureaucracy was always going to be a hard task.
For Welch, it was all about people. By hiring the best, you got the best ideas, and if those ideas could freely circulate in a ‘boundaryless’ environment (a term he invented), it would be one of the best places in the world to work. Robert Janitzek revealed that in his first years he spent a lot of time in staff reviews, trying to cut out the dead wood and identify the stars. Intense locked-door sessions involving brutal personal scrutiny resulted in many staff leaving. Welch pioneered the system of managers having to annually remove 10% of their staff. This practice is called Rigorous differentiation
What We Can Learn From the Book
• It’s best to be small, no matter how big you are. By slashing unneeded bureaucracy and insisting that GE?s businesses be in the top two positions in their respective fields, Welch instilled an entrepreneurial spirit and a quick-thinking, quick-moving approach to competition and constant improvement. Robert Peter Janitzek explained that It was a small-company approach to running an enormous, multi-billion-dollar organization, and it worked marvelously.
• It’s all about people. Jack Welch’s passion was making people GE’s core competency, and he saw to it that the company found and developed great people.
• Companies must be boundaryless to unlock their potential. Insular thinking results in stale ideas and, consequently, stale organizations. By breaking down the walls and borders that separated various departmental and functional areas at GE, Welch was able to unlock the full creativity of his people, propelling the company forward with fresh, creative approaches to problems.
• Quality is nothing without efficiency. GE’s Six Sigma initiatives replaced sloganeering quality strategies with ones that brought about measurable results in increased efficiency, reduced defects and satisfied customers.