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Winning: Jack Welch on Work-Life Balance and Other Pressing Issues

Posted on August 11, 2005 by Sarah Eaton.

Yes, you read that correctly.  The title of this review speaks the truth.  The Jack Welch of “Winning” seems to be a kinder sort of fellow—one who still believes in booting out the bottom 10 percent of performers in organizations (differentiation), but a mellower one nonetheless.

To tell you the truth, I went into this book wondering what it would have to offer me due to our differing philosophies when it comes to the whole numbers vs. people thing, but, to my surprise, I’ve started a couple of sentences with, “Well, Jack Welch says…” since I’ve finished it. 

Jack Welch says you need positive energy and the ability to energize others.  Jack Welch says candor is the key to streamlined communication and results.  Jack Welch says if you don’t shape up, I’m going to differentiate you right out of here.  (Just kidding on that last one.) 

Here’s what I liked:

  • There are takeaways.  This is a biggie.  It’s not one of those books where the author rambles on and on without giving you any practical applications. 

Example:  “Strategy: It’s All in the Sauce” is the title of one of the chapters.  In that chapter, he, believe it or not, outlines steps you can take and questions you should ask yourself to analyze your situation, and then move forward to act on your strategies.  This is real, applicable stuff.

And in that spirit, here are five takeaways for you.  Jack Welch says…:

  1. A company’s mission statement and a company’s values must reinforce each other.  Values should support the mission.
  2. Every person deserves a voice.  Every person deserves dignity.  Everyone should be able to speak her mind, and everyone should be respected for who she is and what she does.
  3. The four characteristics of a high-level leader are authenticity, resilience, the ability to see around corners and a penchant to surround himself with the best people.  Look for those characteristics when hiring.
  4. There are three firing mistakes: Moving too quickly, not being honest enough in the process and waiting too long to do the firing.
  5. Attach change initiatives to clear goals.
  • It’s well-written. Gosh, it’s easy to get through—it’s what I would imagine it would be like sitting at your grandpa’s knee as he weaves tales of his success, sitting in a rocking chair, sharing his caramel chews.
  • It covers a lot of ground.  From learning how to survive a crisis (face it) to learning how to survive a bad boss (take a look at yourself, first) to mergers and acquisitions (all right, I admit I skipped half of this chapter because I got bored, but you might find it fascinating), Jack is sharing his thoughts, experience and stories of successes and failures of real people with whom he’s worked over the years.

Here’s what I didn’t like:

  • It covers a lot of ground.  I guess the thing is called “Winning,” which is a gigantic subject, so this should have been expected.  But, because so many topics are covered, it can feel like you’re careening haphazardly through the canals of Jack’s brain as you read.  Once you start to get a handle on one topic—zip!—you’re off to the next one. 

Yet, this kind of structure does mean that you can use this book as a kind of business reference book.  Interested in budgeting today?  Crack open “Winning” and check out that chapter.  Two months from now you might be having trouble with your team—grab “Winning” off the shelf and see what Jack’s got to say about it in the chapter called “People Management.”

Overall, I’d recommend it.  The positives of the book far outweigh the negative, and the way the book is structured means that there’s something in it for everyone, regardless of your position, or business interests.

August 11, 2005 in award winning magazine, award winning newsletter, Blog Outsourcing, blog publish, build credibility, Business editorial, Business newsletter, Business relationships, Corporate newsletter, Corporate publications | Permalink


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I agree with our assesment, none the less, there is more "concrete" in two chapters than there is in most business books.

Posted by: Michael | Feb 13, 2006 4:50:19 PM

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