Since Welch retired in 2001 as chairman and chief executive officer of GE, he has traveled the world, speaking to more than 250,000 people and answering their questions on dozens of wide-ranging topics.
Inspired by his audiences and their hunger for straightforward guidance, Welch has written both a philosophical and pragmatic book, which is destined to become the bible of business for generations to come. It clearly lays out the answers to the most difficult questions people face both on and off the job.
Welch's objective is to speak to people at every level of an organization, in companies large and small. His audience is everyone from line workers to MBAs, from project managers to senior executives. His goal is to help everyone who has a passion for success.
Welch begins Winning with an introductory section called "Underneath It All," which describes his business philosophy. He explores the importance of values, candor, differentiation, and voice and dignity for all.
The core of Winning is devoted to the real "stuff" of work. This main part of the book is split into three sections. The first looks inside the company, from leadership to picking winners to making change happen. The second section looks outside, at the competition, with chapters on strategy, mergers, and Six Sigma, to name just three. The next section of the book is about managing your career -- from finding the right job to achieving work-life balance.
Welch's optimistic, no excuses, get-it-done mind-set is riveting. Packed with personal anecdotes and written in Jack's distinctive no b.s. voice, Winning offers deep insights, original thinking, and solutions to nuts-and-bolts problems that will change the way people think about work.
Bringing good things to work
For many readers, the most interesting thing about former GE CEO Jack Welch's new book, Winning, is that it was written with his wife, Suzy. In 2001, Welch and Suzy Wetlaufer made headlines when their affair, already a topic of speculation in some circles, become public knowledge. Wetlaufer was editor of the Harvard Business Review at the time; when she interviewed Welch for the magazine it was reportedly love at first sight. Their relationship sparked a journalism ethics debate and led to a lot of unusually spicy stories on the business pages.
Now the happy couple joins forces on a shared passion and aptitudebusiness. Welch considers his latest book to be a how-to guide of sorts. "Winning is a book for the people in business who sweat, get their nails dirty, hire, fire, make hard decisions, and pay the price when those decisions are wrong," he says. He speaks from experience, having been at GE's helm for 20 years before retiring in 2001. Welch wasn't a trendy outsider brought in to dazzle GE stockholders; he'd joined the company's lackluster plastics division back in 1960, fresh from earning a doctorate in chemical engineering. Seven years later, he was in charge of the division, having turned it around.
As he rose through the ranks, Welch developed a reputation for being competent, forward-thinking and, most of all, effective. He earned the nickname "Neutron Jack," as he set out to "fix, sell, or close" under-performing divisions. The result? Record profits and 100,000 fewer employees: the neutron in the nickname was an allusion to his tendency to leave buildings standing with no people inside.
Fortune magazine named Welch "Manager of the Century" and his philosophiesa seven-point program espousing management through leadershiphave been the subject of several books, including Welch's memoir Jack: Straight From the Gut. In Winning he shares more of his business acumen. "I see this book as a handbook for people in the trenches, turning their companies and the economy around," Welch has said of the book. "I think it will be useful for people just starting their careers or their own businesses to seasoned managers running multi-billion dollar enterprises."