by Jack Welch

Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, has written a second book on business and the lessons he’s learned in four decades with GE and two decades as GE’s CEO. His basic advice on strategic planning and vision statements are alone worth the price of the book. He also discusses how to select a career path, how to get promoted, how to deal with a tough boss, and the evolution of the work-life balance as a concept for today’s executive.

He also goes into greater detail about his controversial doctrine that managers should evaluate their staffs. He believes in using a model that says that 20% are outstanding and should be promoted as leaders, 70% are average and should be further investigated to see who might be developed into leadership, and 10% are underpeformers who should be placed on probation with an eye to dismissing them from their employment. Welch believes that most employee assessment processes do a disservice to the employee as well as the organization by not candidly assessing true performance. This leaves organizations performing below capacity and some employees vulnerable to dismissal during lean times while having no clue why they were the ones chosen and having had no opportunity to improve.

His perspective is heavily influenced by his own experiences ad those of his former company, GE. Few examples come from other corporate environments, or from history and the experiences of others outside GE. Welch shares a weakness common to business book authors — the ability to generalize from personal experiences to life in general, but an inability or neglect for taking life in general and applying it to his or others’ specific situations. Accept this limitation, work around it by using your own imagination, and the book becomes much more useful and enjoyable.

Table of Contents

Introduction: “Every Day, There is a New Question”

Underneath It All

1. Mission and Values: So Much Hot Air About Something So Real
2. Candor: The Biggest Dirty Secret in Business
3. Differentiation: Cruel and Darwinian? Try Fair and Effective
4. Voice and Dignity: Every Brain in the Game

Your Company
5. Leadership: It’s Not Just About You
6. Hiring: What Winners Are Made Of
7. People Management: You’ve Got the Right Players. Now What?
8. Parting Ways: Letting Go Is Hard to Do
9. Change: Mountains Do Move
10. Crisis Management: From Oh-God-No to Yes-We’re-Fine

Your Competition
11. Strategy: It’s All in the Sauce
12. Budgeting: Reinventing the Ritual
13. Organic Growth: So You Want to Start Something New
14. Mergers and Acquisitions: Deal Heat and Other Deadly Sins
15. Six Sigma: Better Than a Trip to the Dentist

Your Career
16. The Right Job: Find It and You’ll Never Really Work Again
17. Getting Promoted: Sorry, No Shortcuts
18. Hard Spots: That Damn Boss
19. Work-Life Balance: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Having It All (But Were Afraid to Hear)

Tying Up Loose Ends

Here, There, and Everywhere: The Questions that Almost Got Away