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Jack: Straight from the Gut Paperback – Illustrated, October 1, 2003
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About the Author
- Item Weight : 1.23 pounds
- Paperback : 496 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0446690686
- ISBN-13 : 978-0446690683
- Dimensions : 6 x 1.38 x 9 inches
- Publisher : Grand Central Publishing; Illustrated edition (October 1, 2003)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #60,452 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The language isn't formal, academic, or even moderated. If you're offended by the occasional use of foul language, you'll be offended on a few occasions, Jack tells it how it is. He recounts his climb through the ranks of General Electric, and how he managed to create the vision that led to GE's success.
The book is an autobiography, and there's not a lot of dissenting view points. While Jack does mention that some of his decisions were unpopular, and how some of his actions were flops, the analysis of why these ventures failed are always introspective. That doesn't allow for a complete picture of GE's history during Jack's tenure with the company, but for those of us who aren't working for (or competing against) them, it suffices.
More importantly, it's enjoyable. There are a few nuggets of wisdom (giving 'stretch' promotions at the beginning of a career, the No 1 / No 2 philosophy, encourage big swings and never punish a big miss) contained within the book, but it's not a management philosophy text book.
You aren't likely to find any profound quotes or revalations contained in these pages; and if you can manage that expectation, then this book is a fantastic read.
The book is a biography from Jack Welch and thus follows the standard chronological form. It starts with his "early years" (chapter name) where Jack describes his childhood and relationship with his parents. From there he goes on about his study and how he joined GE and sort-of hated it because it was such a large and bureaucratic company. He describes his beginning years in GE quite quickly... that is how he got promoted again and again until finally he was in the race for the CEO. The majority of the book describes his years as the CEO, which I guess are the things the average reader wants to know about. As CEO, he describes the policies he put in place, the companies he bought and the programs he ran.
The book confirmed my prejudices about Jack's management style. I found his focus on monetary rewards horrible. The A, B, C ranking a very unfortunate idea that many companies today have copied. His focus on buying on selling businesses uncomfortable. Yet, he manages to explain to himself why his decisions are good and human. But the book also showed an other side of Jack that I hadn't known. The relentless focus on good people and educating them (unfortunately, mostly managers). His effort on removing bureaucracy so that people can focus on actual work. And his attitude of sometimes diving deep in a business to really understand it instead of just managing the numbers. These sides of Jack surprised me and made the book a lot more interesting to me.
Still, I wouldn't recommend the book quickly to others. It does cover a lot of stories very shallowly and it is hard to remember the names. The book could probably be smaller. Also, the book feels a bit too self-promoting at times. I guess the "I'm right!" is simply one of Jack's attitudes that is reflected in the book. Anyways, not a bad book, yet I wouldn't recommend it either. 3 stars.
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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Those aside, the book itself is a good read.