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The GE Work-Out : How to Implement GE's Revolutionary Method for Busting Bureaucracy & Attacking Organizational Proble Hardcover – April 15, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
Many companies have adapted Jack Welch's now-famous strategies for running a business. Taking advantage of Welch's popularity (and expertise), this handbook lays out instructions for implementing GE's "Work-Out" method. Flexible in execution, the method calls for collecting large teams of employees for defining tough business decisions, then breaking into smaller teams to develop solutions. The small teams then meet with a manager in a "town meeting" to discuss their recommendations. The result is change that's brought about by employees themselves. Consultants Ulrich and Ashkenas, along with Kerr (a managing director of Goldman Sachs) were brought together by Welch to create the "Work-Out" method.
From the Back Cover
"Work-Out helped us to create a culture where everyone began playing a part, everyone's ideas began to count, and leaders led rather than controlled."Jack Welch, Jack: Straight from the Gut
Implement GE's legendary Work-Out technique for solving organizational problems fastand get fast, GE-like resultsin your organization
Bring together the employees and managers who understand a problem best ... Challenge them to develop creative solutions in a single day ... Immediately present and decide on those solutions in a public forum ... Empower people to carry them out within eight weeks ...
These are the basic tenets of GE's famous "Work-Out," the simple, powerful problem-solving technique Jack Welch used to revolutionize GE's bureaucratic culture and restore its standing as one of the world's most successful organizations. The GE Work-Out is a step-by-step guide to using Work-Out to quickly solve problems in your organization, break down obstacles to getting things done, and improve the way your organization works.
"The authors of this book helped us create Work-Out and incorporate it into the fabric of GE. Their book will help you adapt Work-Out to your organizationwith dramatic results."William J. Conaty, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, General Electric Company
"Every company, no matter its size, unknowingly builds an inventory of productivity-killing relics in its basement. Work-Out helps to clean them out and keep everyone focused on creatively meeting customer needs. If you want to keep your company fresh and vital, ask your managers to read this bookand make Work-Out part of your firm's DNA."W. James McNerney, Jr, .Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, 3M
"I have seen the effectiveness of Work-Out in both business and government. When I was Governor of West Virginia, we found Work-Out to be invaluable to us in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of our state government."Governor Gaston Caperton
President, The College Board
"Making fundamental change in organizations is almost impossible, but GE has succeeded. The GE Work-Out explains GE's secret weapon for fast, performance-improving change."Jeffrey Pfeffer, Professor, Stanford Business School and coauthor, The Knowing-Doing Gap: How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge Into Action
The GE Work-Out provides hands-on examples and case histories to help you implement GE's heralded Work-Out methodology in your organization. Written by GE employees and consultants who were key partners in the creation and rollout of GE's original Work-Out programand unique in that it addresses Work-Out from both perspectivesthis no-nonsense book will help you develop a realistic understanding of what Work-Out can and can't do, as well as the attitudes that must be in place throughout any organization before Work-Out can be successful.
Work-Out has helped GE employees at every level cut through bureaucracy to solve small and large organizational problems quickly. Written by consultants and GE executives who helped develop the original Work-Out problem-solving technique, this practical book provides detailed information on:
The underlying principles of Work-Out
Planning, conducting, and implementing a Work-Out
Customizing Work-Out for your organization
Using Work-Out to develop effective, visionary leaders
Worksheets, tools, and case studies.
Work-Out has been used with dramatic results not just at GE but in many other organizations, including 3M, Home Depot, Sears, and the State of West Virginia. Its genius lies in harnessing the intelligence of the workers closest to a problem. The GE Work-Out shows you how to adapt Work-Out to your organization, break down hierarchy and red tape, and create an empowered workforce confident enough to envision and implement change whenever and wherever it is needed.
In today's speed-of-light global environment, endless committees and "It's how we've always done it" cop-outs are nothing less than a full-scale surrender, one that will both disappoint your customers and energize your competitors. The GE Work-Out will show you how to involve every member of your organization in solving the small but essential problems that are keeping you from becoming a world-class organization. Filled with worksheets, tools, case studies, and more, it is the first book to provide true, unvarnished directives for understanding GE's battle-proven Work-Out, then adapting it forand embedding it inyour organization.
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So what makes a Work-Out unique? First, the people who do the work define the issues and develop recommendations. Then, leadership makes the decision "on the spot" so all involved with making the recommendations know the status. Every recommendation has an implementation owner and a champion (a business manager who has the clout to make the approved recommendation a reality). Finally, every approved recommendation has the highest level of commitment to action (in other words, leadership gets in front of the action versus "behind" or supporting the recommendation). That means all obstacles are removed for swift action. It's all about easy fixes and quick successes in an enironment ripe for reducing waste - not long, complex science projects!
At its core, Work-Out is a simple, straightforward concept for cutting out bureaucracy and solving organizational problems - fast. Large groups of employees and managers - from different levels and functions of the organization - come together to address issues that they identify or that senior management has raised as concerns. In small teams, people challenge prevailing assumptions about "the way we've always done things" and come up with recommendations for dramatic improvements in organizational processes. The Work-Out teams present their recommendations to a senior manager in a "town meeting", where the manager engages the entire group in a dialogue about the recommendations and then makes yes-or-no decisions on the spot. Recommendations for changing the organization are assigned to "owners" who have volunteered to carry them out and follow through to get results. That's Work-Out in a nutshell.
Work-Out can be applied to almost any type of problem. It was first used at GE to harvest the low-hanging fruit of OVERGROWN BUREAUCRACY by getting unnecessary and unproductive work out of the organizational system - e.g. reduce meetings, reports, and approval levels. They asked what procedures didn't make sense? Where were they wasting time? What activities seemed to add little value? Some of the bureaucratic procedures were expense reimbursements, making travel arrangements, obtaining office supplies, updating personnel data, taking education courses, upgrading software, and more. But also in the core functions, bureaucracy was found: filling out forms for deals, preparing presentations for approval meetings, keeping track of customer data, obtaining approval for materials purchasing, overwhelming amounts of extra analysis to justify various investments or initiatives. Some of the results were e.g. that expense accounts did not need multiple approvals, people could purchase approved software without going through the IT department, and a pre-deal process was established to see if deals were worth pursuing before going through all the analytics.
Work-Out has been successfully adapted to any type of organization - public or private, commercial or non-profit, large or small. In all of these organizations, no matter what the issue, the process remains much the same.
1. Bring together the people from the organization who know the issues best
2. Challenge them to develop creative solutions
3. Decide on the solutions immediately in a public forum
4. Empower people to carry them out
Despite its massive impact on GE and other firms, Work-Out is not a snake oil or magic elixir. It is a simple set of concepts, tools, and experiences. When stripped to its essence, Work-Out allows people to get some obstacles out of the way so they can do their work better. In many firms, that alone would be a significant gain.
The real merit of this book is the practical approach. If you are - as I am - struggling with the challenges of continually keeping our organizations lean, then this book can help you. It contains many inspiring worksheets, action plans, tools, and hands-on case studies.
The authors of this book helped GE create Work-Out. So don't expect theoretical contributions. Only sound advice.
Co-author Dave Ulrich is one of my favourite HR experts. I can recommend many of his books, e.g. `Results-Based Leadership' and `Delivering Results'. To him, HR is about delivering business performance and organizational capabilities. Cause if you don't, you'll soon be out of business. The tricky part is balancing the soft and hard part of HR. Dave Ulrich has many good concepts to make that happen. This book is not a bad place to start, if you'd like to pick his brains...
M.Sc. in International Business (Marketing & Management) and Graduate Diploma in E-business
Those who have studied Six Sigma know it can quickly become overly complex. The does not happen with the Workout process. Workout is simple, easy to apply and can produce startling results, often quickly.
If you are frustrated by inefficiencies, process bottle-necks or dealing with the same nagging problems where you work, give this book to your CEO and urge him or her to start utilizing the GE Workout process.
Not every problem can be solved. But many can. Not every problem can be solve quickly. But many can. For those problems that can be addressed, including many that can be resolved in days or weeks - not months or years - Workout can be a life saver.