With Jack Welch’s final corporate initiative as CEO at GE, people in all parts of the organization, in all parts of the world, were brought together to identify creative and effective ways to improve their processes and the way they cooperated with other segments of the organization. To be successful, everyone needed to understand what was expected of them and why it was valuable. But even with that clarity of purpose and value, the initiative would never have succeeded without the genuine involvement of the people that made that global organization. Welch created a process improvement club that was “exclusive” to everyone in the organization.
To involve them successfully (which he did), Welch needed to communicate and support three key areas of Involvement which include Empowerment, Team Orientation and Capability Development.
Empowerment | With the understanding that most people at GE were highly involved in their work, the commitment was made to share information widely, have decisions made at the level where the best information was available, and involve absolutely everyone in the process to some degree. With this effort, everyone could have confidence in their ability to have a positive impact.
Team Orientation | People working cooperatively as part of a team is a primary building block of any successful business initiative and a key indicator of a healthy culture. Without the distraction of hierarchy, teams were used at GE to get things done. By organizing the work so that everyone could see the relationship between their job and the goals of the organization, people were able to contribute in a meaningful way and take pride in their contribution.
Capability Development | It isn’t enough to empower teams if they aren’t equipped to be effective in reaching their identified objectives. For culture and performance to achieve its highest potential, people’s capabilities must be viewed as a competitive advantage, worthy of continual improvement and investment.
While Jack Welch certainly had a reputation at GE as a firm leader, this final initiative highlighted his ability to 1) empower 2) capable 3) teams to achieve a level of performance that would not have been possible otherwise.
The DUO cultural approach assesses and builds these capabilities so employees are valued, involved, and able to perform at the highest levels.
Continue to Part 2 in this series
Jon Reed is ADG’s Director of Culture and People Development. Click here to read more about Jon's background and experience.