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Home > Blog > Sorry If I'm Not Kneeling at This Altar
Out of Our Minds
Thursday, February 10, 2005 9:19 PM
Sorry If I'm Not Kneeling at This Altar
Kevin Salwen on Business

A fascinating news release dropped into my inbox this evening. The headline pronounced: PERFECTBOUND ANNOUNCES THE E-BOOK AND DIGITAL AUDIOBOOK RELEASE OF 'WINNING,' THE NEW BUSINESS HOW-TO BOOK BY FORMER GE CEO JACK WELCH.

A How-To book from Jack Welch, the chief of all chiefs, the guy with all the right moves! The press release noted that the book flowed from questions people had asked Welch during appearances. ''Winning' clearly lays out the answers to the most difficult, important questions people face both on and off the job,' the release said. Now I was getting excited.

'The 'real stuff' of work is explained by Welch...'

Now my eyes are flying over the page. I can't wait to learn! Jack Welch is going to teach me the real stuff of work!! Then came the completion of that sentence and my heart sank: The real stuff of work, as Welch defines it: 'how to lead, hire, get ahead, even write a budget.'

Get ahead? Write a budget? Hire? That's what so many of us live for in our work? No happiness, no meaning, no joy, no greater good? (At least how to lead got in there -- but I find myself fearing what might be in that section.) Is it me, or does Jack Welch seem a man from another time.


8 comments

Human Growth Hormone - 2/24/2005 3:01:53 PM
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Brent P. Newhall - 2/15/2005 2:48:42 PM
Fred, there is such a thing! Search for 'Every Mistake in the Book'. An entertaining read.
Fred - 2/11/2005 12:59:37 PM
After reading a lot of these 'how-to' business books, someone please write a book on failures and mistakes made. It's much harder to replicate someone else's success than to avoid repeating someone else's mistakes. It would also be much more insightful reading about how someone deals with their own character flaws than someone gloating about how they closed their last deal.
Kevin - 2/11/2005 12:07:35 PM
Gray, your point is indeed valid -- in fact, there is nothing in it to dispute. NONE of this works without profit. Zero, zip, nada.

But here's the key: Chainsaw Al Dunlap could generate profit increases too, as he did at Sunbeam and Black & Decker. But it came at enormous human cost and, as Sandy notes, is not a sustainable strategy. In short, the business world is searching for -- and finding -- a new group of heroes, people like Howard Schultz at Starbucks and Kenneth Cole and the guys at Google. Those are the people that the new generation wants to follow into battle. And, by the way, so do shareholders.
Sandy - 2/11/2005 10:37:24 AM
I think Gray has a valid point. The dilemna of the current age is exactly that, does a business exist for the sole reason of returning shareholder value, probably yes within the current paradigms of measuring business success. But thats the end result that we are talking about.

However one of the most fundamental factors to having an organization that works to its potential and deliver the shareholder value, is quality and attitude of its people. The point is,I think having passionate and purposeful people in organizations delivering extraordinary results ,is a means to an end called creating shareholder value, they are interdependent.

So I presume Jack Welch's new book is grounded in the physical domain, a recipe of his personal best to-dos of primary tasks of a business leader. The metaphysical domain of purpose,source and higher calling may well be topic of his another book , because no matter how much I replicate a master's best practises, until I get to the source and context of the action, it can never be a sustainable and repeatable strategy.

Gray - 2/11/2005 8:59:47 AM
I hate to be the one to break it to you - but pursuit of shareholder value must be the most important thing for a CEO.
Delivering a real and consistent return on investment to the owners of the company is why businesses exist. What enlightened CEO's know is that good corporate culture, good corporate citizenry and good corporate governance - deliver better returns - better motivated employees and better communities for us to share.
Your idealism is fine - keep it - but read the tagline and add Profit to your purpose and passion.
martin - 2/10/2005 11:07:46 PM
I fall into the small anti-Jack camp. RIFs, layoffs and the pursuit of 'shareholder value' cost the workforce at GE dearly. I realize there are countless black-belt Six Sigma devotees who would unleash a wrath of quality driven death on my idealistic bones. Jack needs to enjoy the sunset he's ridden into. There are countless others who have achieved greatness with a lower body count.

Jack feels as fresh and timely as reading the Bonfire of the Vanities.
Wendy - 2/10/2005 10:57:44 PM
Hi. Work is a metaphor for life and whenever a new book of 'best practices' comes out we all hope to find the answers; you should see my walls! What I'm learning is that the answers are inside each of us, our own individual answers, Jack may have some best practices for specific left brain business tactics, but that is it. We don't want to mimic Jack in our quest for our 'essential selfs' - our personal happiness. Life is about connecting and separating, from our various multi-dimensional pieces and if your readers are like me, or like I was 12 months ago, that multi-dimensional part was one-dimensional - work! Life gets aggrevating, sad and lonely that way. Do you remember how fun it was when we were kids and we just wanted to eat really quickly so we could just go back out and play? Connect and separate. Job to family. Family to friends. Friends to painting/sports/dance. Dance to reading. Reading to blogging. Blogging to work. Connect and separate. Multi-dimensional. Anchored in an essential self. Jack Welch is writing to a left brained audience, but we're all starved for a holistic one ... we're just now started to 'feel it.'

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