domingo, 17 de abril de 2011

Winning - Jack Welch

This book came into my hands by chance. I was with a friend talking when I absentmindedly blurted how much I love reading and how I usually read three books a week. Of course, he must have thought I was exaggerating and didn't believe me at all. Not that I care...most people don't believe me as well. After fooling around with me on my reading habits he turned around and handed me a book. It was this book. "Here, I am going to lend you this book to read. I tried reading it twice but never got past half of it, so now you can read it and then tell me all about it." and he then kidded again "It must be great to lend books to you because you will return them in less than a week, no?"
I went back home, book in hand and very anxious to read it (which is the way I usually feel when I receive a new book to read). On the front cover of the book was the following phrase by Warren Buffet: "No other management book will ever be needed." Just by reading that I knew the book had to be good. Not only good - it had to be great! Since I usually read 5-7 books at once I took around ten days to finish this book since there were some other ones that I needed to finish before. But once I started readding it I was just flipped out on its pages and every few pages I read I was compelled to stop for a few minutes, take a breather and think about what I had just read. It was just too much information - too much good and important information - for me not to do so. And that is when I started jotting down my favorite quotes, snippets of the book which I considered helpful and relevant and by that I ended up with a brief summary of the whole book
And so this time instead of just writting my thoughts on the book I decided I would write down the notes I took while reading it. It's a contagious book - one that makes you want to win and still show those around how to win as well. 
Okay, so here goes my brief summary of what most spoke to me in this book:

1. Competition is fun! Enjoy it! 
2. Mission and Values 
How do you plan on winning at this business? Answer that question, and you have your mission. 
Values are the behaviors you plan to exhibit in achieving your mission.  
In order to make your mission and values actually impact your organization, you've got to reward those who practice them and punish those who don't. 
"Integrity is just a ticket to the game. If you don't have it in your bones, you shouldn't be allowed on the field."
3. Candor 
In order to get ahead, you need great ideas - lots of great ideas. To get the best ideas, turn your business into an idea machine. Nurture a constant flow of ideas from every level of your organization - not just your top managers. The only way to foster such idea-sharing is to develop a culture of candor, where people aren't afraid to speak their minds. Reward them for their candor, even if it makes themselves and others - yes, you - look bad. 
4. Differentiation  
In professional sports, athletes who perform best are rewarded lavishly. Those who don't play well are paid the minimum salary and eventually fired. Businesses should operate the same way.  It may seem cruel and Darwinian, but in the long run, people are happier doing what they're good at. If they're not excelling, you're ultimately doing them a favor by moving them out of an environment where they know they're a drag on the organization. They'd be happier some place else. 
5. Voice and Dignity
The problem: management gets ideas from only a few vocal people. The vast majority are either scared to speak up or feel they have no right to speak up because they haven't been asked. A "Work-Out" is a way to get these untapped ideas flowing. 
Groups of thirty to a hundred gather, led by an outside facilitator. The boss shows up at the beginning, explaining what they will be doing and promising that he/she will give "an on-the-spot yes or no to 75 % of the recommendations" and to "resolve the remaining 25 percent within thirty days." Then, the boss disappears in order to not stifle discussion, leaving the meeting in the hands in the facilitator. The boss returns at the end of the meeting to hear the recommendations and make decisions. 
"For twenty-five years, you paid for my hands when you could have had my brain as well - for nothing." (A middle-aged appliance worker at a Work-Out) 
6. Leadership 
1. Leaders relentlessly upgrade their team, using every encounter as an opportunity to evaluate, coach, and build self-confidence. 
2. Leaders make sure people not only see the vision, they live and breathe it. 
3. Leaders get into everyone’s skin, exuding positive energy and optimism. 
4. Leaders establish trust with candor, transparency, and credit. 
5. Leaders have the courage to make unpopular decisions and gut calls. 
6. Leaders probe and push with a curiosity that borders on skepticism, making sure their questions are answered with action. 
7. Leaders inspire risk taking and learning by setting the example. 
8. Leaders celebrate. 
"Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. 
When you become a leader, success is all about growing others."

"You are not a leader to win a popularity contest—you are a 
leader to lead. Don’t run for office. You’re already elected."

7. Hiring 
Jack Welch starts with off with these three screens:
Screen #1: Do they have integrity? Do they tell the truth and keep their word?
Screen #2: Are they intelligent? Do they have enough curiosity to lead other smart people?
Screen #3: Are they mature? Are they able to handle stress and setbacks, respect other's emotions, be confident without being arrogant and have a sense of humor?
If the person passes on those first three screens he goes on to what he calls the four E's:
Positive Energy - thrives on action, relishes change, makes friends easily, loves work and life.
Can Energize Others - Has a deep knowledge of his own business and has strong persuassion skills.
Has Edge - Has the ability to make tough decisions, even when some information is lacking.
Can Execute - Can take the decision and make it happen, overcoming all obstacles  to complete the task.
Passion - Is excited about his work, learns, grows and helps others around him win.
To top it off here are the four additional traits he seeks when hiring a senior level leader:
Authenticity - bold and decisive, yet real and likeable - not phony, not playing a part. 
Having vision - a visionary who can see the future and anticipate what most don't expect. 
A knack for surrounding themselves with people smarter than themselves. 
"Heavy-Duty Resilience" - someone who's been knocked down and beat up badly, but bounced back to run even harder.
He then mentions an instance when somone asked him what should be the one question to ask the person that you are hiring. At the time when he was asked he didn't have the answer but after a lot of thought he answers: 
"The number one question to probe in an interview is why the candidate left his previous job, and the one before that... this tells you more about them than almost any other piece of data." 
8. People Management
1. Give HR (Human Resources) power and primacy.
2. Rigorously evaluate with a proven system.
3. Motivate and retain with money, recognition and training.
4. Confront difficult people issues, from trouble-makers to big-headed stars, with candor and action. 
5. Spend half of your time evaluating and coaching the middle 70 percent - those who are neither disrupting nor shining. 
6. Have as flat an organizational chart as possible. Everyone should be crystal clear on who they report to and what their responsibilities are. 
9. Parting Ways
The two controlling principles:
1 - No surprises. Employees should be informed enough about the nature of their business that they understand who might be laid off in an economic downturn or change in the industry. If they aren't performing well, they should be well aware of this through regular formal and informal reviews. If they can't improve, they should know they will have to move on.
2 - Minimize the humiliation. Encourage him that there's a better job out there for him, better matched to his temperament and skills. Help him move toward that next job. 
10. Change 
 In this era of change, you change or die. Here's how to make change more palatable. 
1. Attach every change initiative to a clear purpose or goal. Change for change’s sake is stupid and enervating.
2. Hire and promote only true believers and get-on-with-it types.
3.  Ferret out and remove the resisters, even if their performance is satisfactory. 
4. Seize opportunities, even if they're brought about by someone's misfortune. It takes a strong stomach to ignore the nay sayers; but it can lead to great profits. 
11. Crisis Management 
Five assumptions to keep in mind when a crisis happens:
  • It's worse than you first imagined.
  • Everyone will eventually find out everything. 
  • The media will portray you in the worst possible light.
  • As a result, processes and people must change. 
  • You will survive, smarter and stronger.
"There is a sliver of silver lining to crisis management in that you rarely have to live through the same disaster twice."  
12. Strategy 
"In real life, strategy is actually very straightforward. You pick a general direction and implement it like hell." 
"If you want to win, when it comes to strategy, ponder less and do more." 
First, come up with a "Big Aha" - a way to gain a sustainable competitive advantage.It's an idea, an insight on how to win. It could be developing a new product, or making an old product unique.
Second, put together the team that can make it happen. 
Third, relentlessly seek out the best ways to achieve your "Big Aha," leaving no stone unturned. Look both inside and outside of your company. Be boundaryless, have an obsession with finding a better way - or a better idea - whether its source is a colleague, another business, or another company across the street or on the other side of the globe. Adopt, adapt and continually improve upon them. Exhibit an unyielding emphasis on continual improvement. 
14. Budgeting

Traditionally, companies either budget with a negotiated settlement or a phony smile.  
In the negotiated settlement, a business or division comes to the senior management complaining about barriers to growth and say they'll be doing well to beat 6 percent growth next year.  The management thinks more optimistically and argues that they can deliver 12 percent. They wrangle for awhile and finally settle on a goal of 9%.  All act disappointed with their compromises at the meeting but go home giving high fives that they got what they wanted: management can get enough growth from the division to look decent and the division heads feel they can easily meet or surpass their goals and get their bonuses. 
In phony smile budgeting, the division heads come to the senior management with grand plans, asking for the money to pull off the dreams they feel they can make happen. Management asks some questions and shakes hands smiling, but later gives the word that they can only afford to give them one half what they ask for. Demoralized, the division leaders divvy up the money a little here and a little there, rather than put it where it could be used for the biggest gains. 
Instead, ask yourself:
"How can we beat last year's performance?"
"What is our competition doing, and how can we beat them?"
Look at obstacles and opportunities in the real world. Allocating resources becomes more of an operating plan than a budget. You might need to reallocate resources mid-way through the year because of new opportunities or new competition. One division might be rewarded for growing at only 6% but beating the competition in a difficult environment, whereas another division grew by 15%, but may not get rewarded as much since they didn't take full advantage of a growth opportunity. This encourages divisions to set stretch goals rather than be limited to meeting budgeted goals. 
15. Organic Growth
 GUIDELINE ONE:  Spend plenty up front, and put the best, hungriest, and most passionate people in leadership roles.
GUIDELINE TWO:  Make   an exaggerated commotion about the potential and importance of the new venture.
GUIDELINE THREE:  Err on  the  side of  freedom;  get off the new venture’s back. 
16. Mergers and Acquisitions
This part didn't really apply to me so I didn't jot down much. Basically Welch warns readers of seven pitfalls to avoid.  
17. Six Sigma
In this chapter Welch goes on and on about the quality improvement program Six Sigma which GE adopted in 1995. 
16. The Right Job

"Every time I ask successful people about their first few jobs, the immediate reaction is almost always laughter." 

"Find the right job and you'll never really work again."
First, get a job and learn something about yourself. What do you like or dislike about it? What are you good at and bad at?
Second, get another job that's more in line with the strengths and desires you discovered in your last job.
Third, repeat the process until you find yourself in a job you love. 
Even then, don't expect to find an absolutely perfect job in an imperfect world. 
Here are some signals to look for when you're exploring a potential job:
Signal #1: You like the people there - they're your type.
Signal #2: You'll get the opportunity to learn and grow. 
Signal #3: You'll get credentials that will help you move forward.
Signal #4: It's your own decision - not something someone's pushing you into. 
Signal #5: The work itself is fun, meaningful and rewarding. 
"Nothing will get you a new job faster than terrific performance in your old one."
17. Getting Promoted.
Do more than you're asked. Perform beyond all expectations. If you can, expand your job in such a way that your boss and colleagues all look better. 
Manage those below you in such a way that when they're asked about you, they'll say that you are fair, you care and you were willing to show tough love. 
Help the leadership to champion new initiatives. 
Find the right mentors. 
Learn from the business media. Devour every business magazine and newspaper you can get your hands on. 
Be positive and fun, not a negative bore. 
Don't buck the company values. 
18. Hard Spots
Thankfully, I don't have a boss!!! But when reading this chapter I couldn't help but remember my life as a missionary in which I literally lived with my "boss". I felt like screaming out loud "Why didn't I read this book before?!!! 
Well, actually I never had that hard of a time getting along with the bosses I've had. Somehow I was always able to get around having good communication and performing well enough to more than please them. It must have been because I wouldn't do the job to please them or kiss ass, but more because I always liked getting my job well done. But here are some tips that I would certainly put into practice if I still had a boss: 
Ask yourself why he's being a jerk with you. Is he a jerk to everyone, or just to me?Most workers overrate their job performance and how well-liked they are among colleagues.  Look honestly and objectively at your own attitudes and performance for clues. 
Meet privately with your boss to ask him frankly what is wrong. If something surfaces, commit yourself to a plan for improvement. 
If the boss will be around for the long run, ask yourself, "Is it worth it?" If not, seek another job. If you stay, you forfeit the right to complain. You're there by choice. You're there becuase you very well want to.
19. Work-Life Balance
This chapter really spoke out to me. It's one of the biggest hurddle and problems I face in my life. Trying to separate my work life from my personal life. One of the reasons is because since I am a private English teacher I end up getting real close to my students and sometimes I just can't help but mix them both together. Not cool. Other than that I am also a workaholic. Plain and straight - it's something I just can't help. I like my job and I like working - so much to the point that it many times affects my personal life since I don't separate time for leisure, enough sleep, relaxation and so on. 
Here are a few tips which I thought were great though!
1. Compartmentalize your life. When you're home, be 100% at home. When you're at work, be 100% at work. 
2. Once you've set your life priorities, get comfortable saying "no" to things that would take away from those priorities. 
3. Don't leave yourself out of your priorities. 
Okay, and so that is it! There are still a few ending chapters which I personally thought weren't relevant so I won't include anything about them over here.
Last words of advice: Read it. Ponder over it. Put it in practice. Take it by me, it will change your professional life.  

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