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Winning Hardcover – April 5, 2005

4.3 out of 5 stars 395 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

If you judge books by their covers, Jack Welch's Winning certainly grabs your attention. Testimonials on the back come from none other than Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Rudy Giuliani, and Tom Brokaw, and other praise comes from Fortune, Business Week, and Financial Times. As the legendary retired CEO of General Electric, Welch has won many friends and admirers in high places. In this latest book, he strives to show why. Winning describes the management wisdom that Welch built up through four and a half decades of work at GE, as he transformed the industrial giant from a sleepy "Old Economy" company with a market capitalization of $4 billion to a dynamic new one worth nearly half a trillion dollars.

Welch's first book, Jack: Straight from the Gut, was structured more as a conventional CEO memoir, with stories of early career adventures, deals won and lost, boardroom encounters, and Welch's process and philosophy that helped propel his success as a manager. In Winning, Welch focuses on his actual management techniques. He starts with an overview of cultural values such as candor, differentiation among employees, and inclusion of all voices in decision-making. In the second section he covers issues around one's own company or organization: the importance of hiring, firing, the people management in between, and a few other juicy topics like crisis management. From there, Welch moves into a discussion of competition, and the external factors that can influence a company's success: strategy, budgeting, and mergers and acquisitions. Welch takes a more personal turn later with a focus on individual career issues--how to find the right job, get promoted, and deal with a bad boss--and then a final section on what he calls "Tying Up Loose Ends." Those interested in the human side of great leaders will find this last section especially appealing. In it, Welch answers the most interesting questions that he's received in the last several years while traveling the globe addressing audiences of executives and business-school students. Perhaps the funniest question in this section comes at the very end, posed originally by a businessman in Frankfurt, who queried Welch on whether he thought he'd go to heaven (we won't give away the ending).

While different from the steadier stream of war stories and real-life examples of Welch's first book, Winning is a very worthwhile addition to any management bookshelf. It's not often that a CEO described as the century's best retires, and then chooses to expound on such a wide range of management topics. Also, aside from the commentary on always-relevant issues like employee performance reviews and quality control, Welch suffuses this book with his pugnacious spirit. The Massachusetts native who fought his way to the top of the world's most valuable company was in many ways the embodiment of "Winning," and this spirit alone will provide readers an enjoyable read. --Peter Han

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. One oft-heard comment about Welch's generally praised (and bestselling) 2001 memoir, Jack: Straight from the Gut, was that the book skimped on useful business advice. The respected but controversial former chief of General Electric pays readers back double here. Written with Welch's wife, a onetime editor of the Harvard Business Review, the book delivers a brilliant career's worth of consistently astute (and often iconoclastic) business wisdom and knowledge from the man Fortune magazine called "the manager of the century." Welch knows what he's talking about, and here offers an admirably concise primer on how to do business that's a paragon of tough common sense. From practices he employed at GE (e.g., the much-debated differentiation, which includes winnowing 10% of the workforce at regular intervals), to the personal qualities that lead to success (to Welch, candor is essential), to advice on job hunting and how to work with a bad boss, to ways to maximize the budget process (divorce it from performance rewards), Welch comments frankly and by myriad example, with a common touch that will draw readers in ("that was hardly the first time I'd gotten my clock cleaned by the press"). He explains upfront that the book arose as an attempt to codify his beliefs, in response to the many questions he's received at numerous public appearances since he retired from GE in 2001; as such the book has a somewhat lumpy feel, like an overstuffed bag of presents. But the writing, full of personality and ideas, is a model of clarity and insight, even on such dense subjects as the quality control program Six Sigma. It's difficult to think of anyone in business who wouldn't benefit from reading this savvy, engaging cubicle-to-boardroom guide to success; and it's likely, given Welch's reputation and the massive ad/promo HarperCollins is putting behind the book, that enough business people will want to read it to push it toward the top of the charts. (Apr. 5)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: HarperBusiness; 1st edition (April 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060753943
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060753948
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (395 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,818 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
There are two ways to look at this book and at Jack's management philosophies. One can focus on Jack Welch the person, or Jack Welch the business leader. For those who choose to focus on Jack Welch as a person and how he lived his personal life, then I suggest he is not the man to follow. However, if you want some simple, powerful and proven management practices, then he is arguably one of the best ever.

I continue to be amazed at the simple clarity of his message: empower others, ask questions, tap into the potential of all of your associates, choose integrity and candor over charts, graphs, and politics, and spend more time in action instead of planning and posturing budgets. I cannot read his words, or hear him speak without feeling again as I did as a member of his team at GE. Without fail, I was inspired and honored to be at a company which really believed that bureaucracy was to be avoided, and those who could look at reality without the politics and act accordingly were highly regarded. The one aspect I did not count on was that after leaving GE due to geographical and travel demands, those simple truths which engage and inspire people to reach stretch goals would be so rare. In fact the most basic aspects of candor and open honest dialog about the business are punished in some organizations.

The book itself is written in a conversational tone. It is easy to read, and feels as though you are in a dialog with him over a cup of coffee. Several key themes emerge which may be surprising to others who know him by reputation only.

One, Jack holds no malice and actually celebrates those whose careers involved leaving GE for roles elsewhere.
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Format: Hardcover
It appears that (after a couple of misfires) Jack Welch has finally written a book to match his legend. It probably also helps that his new wife Suzy (and co-author), a former editor at HBR, knows a thing or two about writing. No matter what you think of either Welch, this book is worth the price of admission.

Put "Winning" on the top shelf next to "Good to Great" and "Built to Last." In fact, Welch's "Winning" is the perfect complement to Collins' two-some. Collins' work is dramatically research-based, Welch's is utterly life-based. In particular, I enjoyed his 8 leadership principles that balance soft skills (communicating vision, building trust, motivating others) and character attributes (making the tough call, being positive, being nurturing to the core). I also enjoyed how Welch answers his critics on the infamous 20-70-10 rule and his hiring frameworks.

One strength of "Winning" is in the breadth of topics covered - both in the realm of organizational leadership as well as career development. Lots of books do one well, but Welch manages to excel in both without being superficial or glossying-over (though most other books aren't 350+ pages!).

Make no mistake about it - the ideas presented are not new. For example, two of Welch's leadership principles: "exude positive energy" and "push and probe with a curiousity that borders on skepticism" sound a lot like Collin's "confront the brutal facts, yet never lose faith" principle. But it's Welch's down-to-earth writing style that helps you understand these timeless principles in a fresh way. As you're reading, you can almost picture him speaking the words in some business school auditorium or some Fortune 100 management retreat.
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Format: Hardcover
Winning by Jack Welch is a must read for anyone who wants to succeed in business. The book is informative and readable, and offers specific actions I can take to win in the marketplace.

The parts of the book which I found interesting were creating a company's mission statement, documenting its values and coming up with a strategy. I also found Jack Welch's explanation of the value of candor convincing, and his discussion of work-life balance provocative.

His comments on differentiation (using Six Sigma to rank employees), and on the value of the business press were instructive.

Mission Statement
In Winning, Jack Welch writes that a mission statement must answer the question, "How do we intend to win in this business?" Otherwise, he suggests that a mission statement can turn into "a set of generic platitudes that do nothing but leave employees directionless or cynical," such as "XYZ Company values quality and service" or "Such-and-Such Company is customer driven."

Using GE as an example, Jack describes an effective mission statement: "To be the most competitive enterprise in the world by being No. 1 or No. 2 in every market - fixing, selling, or closing every underperforming business that couldn't get there."

To me, this mission statement and the way he describes creating it makes sense.

Related to the mission statement are values, specific and concrete behaviors which give employees a roadmap to follow to achieve the mission statement.

Using Bank One as an example, Jack Welch describes values that are explained well.
"Never let profit center conflicts get in the way of doing what is right for the customer."
"Always look for ways to make it easier to do business with us.
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