Nov 18, 2010

Jack and Suzy Welch's "Winning": A very enjoyable and productive read!

I read this book a while ago. After hearing countless praises and the ubiquitous presence in every “best self-help/motivational/management books” list, I was finally able to get a hold onto it and go through it. I must say Jack and Suzy Welch’s “winning” deserves all the acclaim it has been receiving. Jack Welch, who transformed General Electrics, from a sleepy "Old Economy" company with a market capitalization of $4 billion to a dynamic new one worth nearly half a trillion dollars, has done a good job writing a book that provides the readers with the insights on how to manage and lead a company as a leader or how to progress or at least survive as an employee. My experience of reading couple of management books tells me that one of the lacking aspect of such books is their inability to relate the concepts fully with the day to day operations. However, where others books fail, winning succeeds by providing multiple examples concerning the issue being discussed and Jack’s valuable insights.

Unlike his previous book, Straight from the gut, even layman and people without corporate experience, can also relate with the contents of Winning because as the author says, he wrote the book as an answer to the countless questions he is asked during interactions. Full of management techniques, their day to day applications, advices for succeeding makes the book a joyful and productive read. Though the book covers multitudes of areas of running a company, some of the lessons I learnt and that I could relate much to my company are:

Having candor among team members in a company is a must for success. As a leader, you should try to create an environment where team members can be blunt and direct when it comes to anything related to the work and the company.

Differentiation between employees on the basis of their performance is necessary to get the best out of everyone (Top 20 percent, middle 70 percent and the bottom 10 percent). I feel this technique wouldn’t be suitable for an organization like mine where every team member is very closely knit with the other and long term commitment and involvement is highly valued, but in general I find this principle quite beneficial for any other team or organization. I agree to Jack’s implication that differentiation when mixed with candor is beneficial not just for the company but for the employees themselves.

His insights about crisis management are also quite helpful. Having a mindset that the crisis is much more severe than it looks at the beginning really helps for one to be better prepared. I also liked his advice that one should never make the boss use their political capital to save him/her. Forcing the boss to use political capital has long term adverse effects in one’s career.

One thing I noticed while reading the book is Jack’s strong faith in free enterprises. Whether it’s about hiring or firing employees, competing with other companies or dealing with the government, his ideas represent his strong support for free enterprises. Winning is one of my favorite books on management and winning itself. I would highly recommend the book to any one interested in winning!