wisdom to win

 Wisdom to Win
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Jack Welch, Straight from the Gut (2001)Jack Welch, Straight from the Gut (2001)


American business leader and management writer (pictured right).

The book is his account of his highly successful reign as the boss of the American company, General Electric from 1981 to 2001.

Time magazine’s manager of the twentieth century 


See also...

Jack Welch in the Business Leaders section.


Book summary


How to be successful in business


1. Great leadershipJack Welch, Straight from the Gut (2001)

The best leaders are:

  • energetic, inspirational and self-confident.
  • unafraid to express their opinions.
  • determined (Welch overcame a stammer).
  • effective (achieving short and long term visionary and challenging aims)



2. Minimizing layers of management

This is necessary to:

  • speed up decision making.
  • reduce bureaucracy. Jack Welch, Straight from the Gut (2001)


3. Constructive conflict

Open and honest debate.


4. Being in businesses that are either number one or two in the world

If they aren’t, “fix, sell or close them”.

Jack Welch, Straight from the Gut (2001)

5. Facing reality

  • avoid self-delusion.
  • be truthful about the position you’re in.


6. Tough love

A mixture of:


a) tough mindedness Jack Welch, Straight from the Gut (2001)

This is needed to:

  • minimize costs.
  • maximize people’s performance.
  • fire/castigate people, when necessary.


b) sensitivity

Treating people well (to attract, motivate and keep the best talent).


7. Dealing with paradox

For example, balancing:

  • short and long term objectives.
  • toughness and sensitivity (see point 6).

 Jack Welch, Straight from the Gut (2001)

8. Customer satisfaction

Convincing employees that job security is impossible without happy customers.


9. Constant change

To increase customer satisfaction by constantly:

  • changing.
  • improving people, products, policies and processes (like production)

 Jack Welch, Straight from the Gut (2001)

10. Boundaryless organization

Breaking down barriers between different functions, so that they co-operate to maximize customer satisfaction.


11. Work-Out sessions

40-100 employees meeting together to find solutions to a management problem without their managers, who then have to implement them.


12. Creativity and innovation

  • welcoming new ideas.
  • rejecting the view that only ideas invented by the company are OK (the “Not Invented Here” mentality).

 Jack Welch, Straight from the Gut (2001)

13. Quality and continuous improvement

  • “Finding a Better Way Every Day” (which became a company-wide slogan).
  • introducing Six Sigma (3.4 defects per million parts).
  • continuous learning.


14. Corporate culture

Inspiring employees through shared corporate values based on:

  • change. Jack Welch, Straight from the Gut (2001)
  • excellence.
  • global competitiveness.
  • inspirational leadership.
  • quality.
  • learning.
  • customer satisfaction.


15. Cost efficiency

Minimizing costs through strict financial controls.

 Jack Welch, Straight from the Gut (2001)

16. Empower and motivate people

  • reward excellent performance.
  • listen to people’s ideas
  • involve people in decision making


Key quotes on business success

It’s all about performance.

No business was a safe haven for employment unless it was winning in the marketplace


Key quote on human resource management

Treat people with dignity and give them a voice.

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