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Winning!

by Jack Welch

Ediciones B, 400 pages, $15.61

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Managers looking for a blueprint to success will find Winning! rife with management strategies to marvel at and emulate. As the former CEO of General Electric, Welch shares insights on everything from crisis management to corporate character. Fortune Magazine dubbed him “The manager of the century” and this new book doesn’t skimp on sharing his wealth of wisdom. If you’re having trouble with hires and fires or looking to develop talent internally, Welch is speaking your language. And those trying to get a handle on their competition will appreciate what he has to say about the external forces that affect a company.

Writing in a conversational tone, Welch favors character and candor over metrics, office politics, and sugarcoating things. His approach is to act first instead of devoting too much of his time to planning and budgeting projects. Welch defends his controversial 20-70-10 stack ranking system, which ranked GE employees as top 20%, middle 70% or bottom 10%. The bottom 10% were pruned out regularly. Unfortunately, this system was subject to human error, and worse, abused. It’s a good lesson for managers to see the differences between theory and practice.

Welch writes that managers must first and foremost look for passion in the individuals they hire. In addition to the P (passion), he lists 4 Es that a potential hire should possess:

  1. Energy
  2. Ability to Energize others
  3. Edge (courage)
  4. Execute (accomplish goals)

Winning! communicates its lessons most effectively when it profiles real people and extracts lessons from their business world experiences. For instance, David Novak, the CEO of Yum! Brands shares the importance of continually tinkering with his products mad scientist style. Jimmy Dunne emerged from the tragedy of the World Trade Center to rebuild his company with steadfast determination and perseverance.

Whether your company is starting up and looking for ways to gain a competitive edge or trying to take things to the next level, these no nonsense strategies will help ease growing pains. Welch’s advice to act and react quickly is essential for bigger businesses that can get bogged down in red tape and decision making. Winning! will make any manager think about how you can better apply and execute many of the management techniques you are probably already practicing.

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