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.
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.
The runway of a person,
The vitality curve of a career
Differentiation being a key value to getting ahead
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
on April 14, 2002
If you want to learn the names of every person who ever worked at GE during Jack Welch's 40 years there, you'll find this book invaluable. If you want to learn something about what made GE successful, however, good luck picking out the few saplings of wisdom from the thick forest of names.
Golf and tennis fans will also find the book fascinating for its endless catalog of golf and tennis resorts nationwide. Apparently being anywhere near the top at GE requires moving to Fairfield, Connecticut and aping the Lifestyles of the Bland and WASPy.
One interesting thing I learned is that GE went from 0 percent employee ownership to 31 percent during Jack Welch's tenure as CEO, primarily through granting of stock options to top managers such as Jack himself. Jack doesn't talk about this except to say that he's proud of the number. He doesn't get into the question of whether the investors from 1980 are happy now that they own less than 70 percent of the company. Nor does he talk about what would have happened to GE's earnings if they'd accounted for all of these stock options at time of issue.
The useful and interesting content in this book could have been presented in 75 pages if the editors and ghostwriter had been doing their jobs. But they weren't doing their jobs. So the readers all have to "give 110 percent" or "give 1000 percent". Maybe this is what Jack Welch wanted because he uses these expressions numerous times throughout Straight from the Gut.
on December 7, 2001
I've read this book and am bewildered why it has the status it does. But I've also wondered the same thing about Mr. Welch for some time as well, so I should've known what I was in for when I picked it up.
The writing seems a bit self-serving, the name-dropping is irritating, and there seems to be a bit missing from his early biography. However, there are some engaging elements.
But it's the larger picture that kept me baffled - and remains unresolved after reading this book. How has Welch come to hold the near-mythical status that he has in the corporate world? He took one of the nation's leading companies (in terms of innovative new products), gutted the research and development budget, and is proclaimed a hero. GE is now a company that buys companies that make things, rather than developing new things to make. On Wall Street, this and frequent downsizing (the surest way to bring a stock's price up) makes you a hero. But how clever do you have to be to drive a prosperous research enterprise into the ground?
on October 17, 2001
Jack Welch made GE prosperous by laying off tens of thousands of American workers and transferring those jobs abroad for the sole purpose of exploitation of poor peoples and countries. His last year as CEO for GE, he earned over $200 million plus another $57 million in stock options. That is FOUR TIMES the COMBINED SALARY OF GE's 15,000 MEXICAN WORKERS. Who couldn't run a profitable company that way? Jack Welch is the kind of person that is killing our economy in the long run; by taking jobs away from American workers and by threatening our relations with other countries that GE, and many others just like it, have continuously, mercilessly exploited for cheap labor. The wages some of these workers receive makes their labor tantamount to slavery.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.