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3.8 out of 5 stars
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 18, 2009
If Drucker wrote the theory on American Management, this book by Dr Welch is a chronology of Drukerism in practice. It has all the elements of what managers wish they could do, should have done and are trying to do. What's interesting is Welch's signature way of getting it done. No other CEO/Author speaks candidly of the objectives and how he went ahead and did it and how he sat there licking his wounds or looking outside the window at the new neon lights atop that building that just became GE's property.
Not everyone admired Neutron Jack's management or had the guts to do what he did. But managers, I'll bet, are relieved that Jack was the one brave enough to try these out with that driven passion.

This is not just for CEOs, divisional, HR and functional managers: it's also for project managers and leaders at ever level of the hierarchy. Not every tactic in this book can be transported to companies and divisions out there: some will not work in the cultures of the 21st century. However, Jack's candor and John Byrne's writing style will make this book a definite legend in all management and leadership libraries.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 1, 2004
I guess it's not bragging if you can do it - and he did. It is difficult to argue GE's success over the past 20 years. Mr. Welch took a 12 billion company and made it into a 500 billion dollar business. Without even using a computer!! Regarding the portion of the book were he talks about assigning E-trainers for all the top executives in the company, all I have to say is rank does have its privileged, It must be nice to have a techie hold your hand if you are an executive and computer illiterate.
It is hard to believe that it wasn't until 1999 that Jack Welch sent his first email. A multimillionaire who isn't connected....
I am not sure if it is ignorance or apathy?
In Mr Welch's defense, I am not sure how the author could have gotten around referencing everybody he worked with or for.
If you can get through that part of the book, there are some things in the rest of the book that are of value. I listened to the book on tape so it wasn't so bad.
He does talk about real people and real problems that he encountered throughout his career and what it took to get the job done working within the environment HE created.
If you are not a business person or just wondered what it is like at the top, here are a dozen of the key ideas Mr Welch talks about in his book.
Stretch jobs
The runway of a person,
The vitality curve of a career
Differentiation being a key value to getting ahead
"boundaryless" operations
Blackbelt employees
Plane crash scenario: Who will run the company
Having a deep bench: When a replacement was needed
Fix, Close or Sell areas of business that are not performing well
Being #1 or #2 in your field
The 6 sigma quality movement
Finance: People and dollars are the movable parts, while the people hold the depth of knowledge
Not to mention a smattering of, golf, tennis and ping pong stories.
Overall I would say buy the book used or borrow it from a friend - 4 stars
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on July 29, 2011
Jack, gives the average person an opportunity to see inside the world of a powerful businessman. This book fails as an instructional guide on how to succeed in business. It does an excellent job of giving you an idea of what it is like to run a multinational corporation and specifically the management philosophy of Jack Welch.

I loved getting to see the organizational structure of such a large and complex company. I found this brief breakdown of GE companies facinating. This book also gives you a chance to understand the thought process of Jack Welch and the reasoning behind his style and decisions. He was controversial and demanding.

Jack-Straight from the Gut is a book for those who would like an entertaining and candid look into the office of a CEO. It is not a how to and offers little insight as to what it takes to achieve this level of success. It is entertaining and not a bad use of your time.

If you're interested in big business and would like an overview as to how it works you should enjoy this book.
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on December 28, 2003
Just a few notes from "Jack straight from the Gut" book which is primarily focused on Jack Welch's 30 years with General Electric.
PhD IN CHEMISTRY: earned this from University of Illinois before starting his career in business which ended up being primarily focused on working for and managing General Electric.
This allowed him to really understand many of GE's products when needed during his 41 year tenure.
DO THE RIGHT THING: even when you have to put your job at risk. Doesn't make sense to do the wrong thing just so as to not "rock the boat"
CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT OF THE WORKFORCE; one way to do this is to fire the bottom 10% of employees on a yearly basis. This earned him the nickname of "Neutron Jack" even though he always tried these workers other positions within the
company and not with competitors.
QUINTUPLE HEART BYPASS: was performed just a few years ago after suffering angina pains for about 15 years.
AVID GOLFER: all of his life with a very low handicap.
EMBRACED QUALITY: throughout the company with a 6 Sigma program.
CONTINUALLY DEVELOP WORKERS to maintain productivity. Hired outside talent as needed.
MEASURE ALL BUSINESS UNITS using ROI calculations in addition to revenue and profits.
BUY OR SELL BUSINESS UNITS: in order to grow a business or cut losses as needed
GE PURCHASES: over $50B worth of goods and services on a yearly basis
OVERHEAD EXPENSES: reduced by 30% or $10B by fully implementing
digital control of all processes including the use of the Internet.
EMPLOYMENT: over 300,000 workers worldwide.
MARRIED 3 TIMES: currently living in Boston with a young wife and her 4 children.
FUTURE PREDICTIONS: China represents the biggest competitor which will drive most non performing companies out of business.
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on December 22, 2003
This book is for anyone who wants to improve him or herself. I read the book as a med student hoping to land a residency in dermatology. I read the book because I wanted to learn about the personal traits of a man succesful enough to climb through about 100,000 competitors and land the top job at one of the world's most successful companies.
A couple of salient points: 1)You must somehow "get out of the heap" by differentiating yourself in some positive manner. Just sitting around being average will not do. 2) You must strive to improve yourself in multiple dimensions--even dimensions that you may not consider "weaknesses." For example, I have to learn to communicate with my patients better, I have to learn more by reading more about my patients diseases, etc., etc. 3) It takes a life time to build a reputation and only 5 minutes to wreck it. Actually, this is an expression of Warren Buffett, but it applies here because Mr. Welch virtually overnight tarnished his rep when his excessive pay package was revealed during proceedings of a bitter divorce. One must anticipate what might destroy oneself and work ahead to prevent disasters.
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on December 4, 2003
"Jack: Straight from the Gut" written by former General Electric CEO, Jack Welch is an interesting insight into the mind of a CEO. The first quarter of the book deals with his childhood and his college years and I find this part very interesting. He provided information on what motivates him, his education and how he became he is today. The main chunk of the book deals with his early years at GE, starting from the plastic business and later the CEO of the entire corporation. Reading the book, you can the feeling that Welch is extremely ambitious, driven and smart.
I enjoy this book because it gives good insights into the life of a CEO, the difficult decisions that he had to make, the importance of people and culture, and the lesson that I learn from him is that, never be afraid to change. Change is inevitable and Welch was not one who is afraid to implement change. He also provided some discussions of some the the decisions that he made and what were the issues that affected businesses.
If you are looking for like point to point statergy on how to run a business successful, then this is not what you are looking for. He did provide some advice on that but mostly he provided insights in terms of understanding organizational behaviors and culture. In terms of his personal life, he did not write much about that and I wish that he did. I highly recommend this to anyone who wants to learn more about decision-making and business in general. It is an easy read, and not much of difficult business jargons.
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on November 22, 2003
What would GE be like without Gary Wendt, Dennis Nayden, and Mike Neal? Nayden the brainpower to structure big complex deal; Neals the people connections negotiator; and Wendt the idea man and acquistion proposing machine. Wendt and Nayden drove GE towards global growth: The 1983 purchase of American Mortgage , 1984 purchase of Employers Reinsurance Corp (Stanger and Dammerman), private label credit cards, commerical finance deals (Wendt), 1994 $12 billion in asset acquistions, 1995 $25 billion in asset acquistions, Banks in Poland and Czech Republic, (Wendt and Nayden close 400 deals involving $200 billion in assets). The numbers are convincing that the acquistions in themselve created wealth. Welsh did not condemn Wendt's asset collection drive with GEs total assets excessing $400 billion. Wendt and Nayden were the real wealth creators of GE. Harvard Business Review would use GE as a model of successfully integrating acquired businesses. GE's exporting Financial services to a global economy drow GEs growth rate.
Dr. Welsh seems to believe Six Sigma and eBusiness turned GE around. Lets look at the impact of Six Sigma. Six Sigma is about knowing business processes to reduce variance increasing cost savings; Gary Reiner and Bob Nelson projected a $7-10 billion cost savings; 1996, Six sigma rolled out under Mike Harry; a 60 fixed and 40 percent six sigma bonus was established; in the first year 30,000 employees were trained at a cost of $200 million. Six sigma performance enhancements: 99.99 change of getting a person in a call center, 5.7 Sigma purity standard for Sony CDs, CT scanner improvement from 3 minutes to 17 seconds, from 1996-1997 6,000 six sigma projects achieving a revenue of $320 million, 1998, a $750 million six sigma savings, increasing operating margins from 14.8 percent in 1996 to 18.9 percent in 2000. Customer felt the effects of six sigma: plastic product span from 50 days to 5; aircraft engines from 80 days to 5; and mortgage insurance from 54 days to 1 day. The customer received what they wanted when they expected it.
Dr Welsh insightfully explains GE drove customer from traditional outlets and contacts to the internet. GE had the customer demand and purchasing drive and so it was logical to channel that
activity to the internet. GE saw the internet as three parts: the buy, the make, and the sell. In implement the internet, GE did not forget the rule "never let anyone get between you and your customers", meaning they would not destory customer relationships with technology.
In summary, I was amused with the life style of the rich and famous Welch, however, I will spend more time following the career of Wendt, Nayden, and Neal, in my opinion the true geniuses of GE, the creative minds behind the wealth creating machine. Its not difficult to understand GE double digit growth, GE recognized globalization strategies early and expanding into india, Japan, thailand, and South America.
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on September 29, 2003
In the business world, Mr. Welch nearly epitomizes the meaning of success. His employee-"ranking" system, although challenged by many, has yet to be improved upon. I've read many autobiographies by successful and/or powerful people, and it quickly becomes apparent that the one thing most have in common is that they take risks. This may seem obvious by outsiders, but by reading book such as "Jack" you can see how difficult it must have been to do things with a company that EVERYBODY is telling you shouldn't be done. But Jack explains in detail his reasoning behind many of his decisions and he follows-up be explaining why a certain decision succeeded or why it failed. It is this kind of self-reflection that is evident in only the greatest people, and I was truly inspired as I read this book. I found myself talking about it constantly, and you can easily find yourself quoting him when trying to cheer someone up.
Perhaps the best person to read this book is someone who knows a little about business and the players involved. Basically, don't get it for the high-school graduate, but buy it for the MBA wanna-be.
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on September 23, 2003
So Jack created profitability at GE. Big deal. So he 'invented' six sigma. a totally useless business model. Towards the end of his book he becomes so esoteric that he seems to have lost grasp of what running a company means. Living the good life and waltzing around with a new woman apparently got to his head. Six Sigma is cute but its useless if thats the only thing you focus on, some esoteric model that has nothing to do with down to earth business, its a number crunchers dream but a realists nightmare.
A terrible treatment. Iaccocas book is more real and down to earth. This book started out with a down to earth irsihman who built himself up but it ends with someone who has a head thats too big for us all and thinks he is better then the world(strolling around in his cheesy kashmir sweaters).
Jack wastes pages and pages detailing all the waste he contributed to charity and community involvement. My company has a community involvement program, I wouldnt volunteer if I was paid to. Business shouldnt be wasting time in lobbying or in charity, it should do what its essential goal is, to do business. Leave charity to the philanthropic organizations. If Jack really cares for charity as much as his book says he does then I feel sorry for the people at GE, forced to waste time with kids and art and useless things like that they could be doing on their own time.
Not a fan. Yet there are parts of the book that detail some interesting parts of GE. Like when Jacks Predeccesor says to him "if a plane crashed and everyone was killed in the top leadership who would you save to lead the company". And then "what three people would you want to live to manage the company."
So it deserves a few stars. Besides like Henry Ford, I dont trust anyone with a PhD running a company.
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on September 9, 2003
It was interesting to look into the mind of the modern CEO and understand what and how he thinks. Now that Jack is at the end of his life, it is safe to judge based on his own autobiography that when he is done with living, on balance he had created more unhappiness in the world than he had created happiness. Under his will, hundreds or thousands have lost their livelihood, and with it their homes, self-respect, families, and so on. Only few - Jack's close pals - have gained extra satisfaction by earning extra dollars.
While none of us here on Earth are saints and all of us hurt others routinely, some of us by gaining access to a bigger bat do more damage. Jack wielded his gigantic club with a fanatical zeal. The book reads like a one long sermon or perhaps rationalization on the virtue of clubbing and disposing of the weakest ones under one's dominion and control.
If you want to emulate Jack's type of success, this book does offer some insight. But I am giving it only 3 stars because this book is mostly boasting and a mechanical recounting of thechronology. Jack might be a businessman, but he is no writer. But there are bits and pieces of "how to".
May God in the future send us fewer people like Jack to walk among us.
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