Monday, September 05, 2005


Finished Winning by Jack Welch. It's a sweeping, no b.s. business management book that covers everything from leadership, change, competition, strategy, mergers, etc. to managing your own career. Not surprisingly, the book's anecdotes are set in the context of huge corporations but its messages are certainly applicable to very small companies with tens of employees. The book is written in "Welch's optimistic, no excuses, get-it-done mind-set" and it's a refreshing, quick read for anyone that's a student of Business.

Here are some points that I really took away from the book:

Winning in business is a good thing. Winning businesses create economic opportunity for families, they create revenue for governments, and they create opportunity for people to give back to their communities.

Differentiation, or the 20-70-10 rule. This is a process by which managers differentiate their people into 3 categories: top 20%, middle 70%, and bottom 10%. The top 20% are treated like all-stars. They should be showered with bonuses, stock, training, perks, whatever. They're treated like the best. However, the middle 70% may be your most important chunk of workers because they're your majority. They should be managed with training, positive feedback, and thoughtful goal setting. People in this category should be moved around to test their leadership skills. People are cultivated and moved up from the middle 70%. Then there's the bottom 10% that makes this system seem cruel - they have to go. Welch's point here is that if expectations and goals are clearly communicated and the person is still not performing acceptably, it's better for everyone, including that person, to move on. It's likely that person will go onto other pursuits and will most likely be happier in a position they're performing well in. I think this makes a lot of sense. Of course, this entire system is based around a formal review process and setting clear-cut expectations.

Acid Tests for assessing people for a job. The first test is for integrity, the second for intelligence, and the third is maturity. He also goes on to explain the 4-E (and 1-P) framework: positive energy, ability to energize others, edge (courage to make yes-or-no decisions), execute (ability to get the job done), and passion.

"Create effective mechanisms - read: money, recognition, and training - to motivate and retain. ... People need to get differentiated rewards and recognition to be motivated. And companies need to deliver both for retention. It's that simple."

"Spend plenty up front, and put the best, hungriest, and most passionate people in leadership roles. ... One thing is for sure: new businesses with limited resources and good-enough people stay small."

And finally, regarding work-life balance: "Outside of work, clarify what you want from life. At work, clarify what your boss wants, and understand that, if you want to get ahead, what he or she wants comes first. You can eventually get what you both want, but the arrangement will be negotiated in that context."

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