Here are my comments on the book:
What can you do today so that your business starts WINNING ? Jack Welch, chairman and CEO of General Electric between 1981 and 2001 who, during his tenure at GE, helped raise the company’s value by 4,000%, states that it all starts with having a strong mission and values, candor, and dignity. In his book, Welch gives his advice on several other aspects of running a business such as leadership, people management, change, strategy, and growth. This is quite a comprehensive book on business and it’s no wonder why Warren Buffett has said, “No other management book will ever be needed. Here are some of the points to the book:
1. Your customers are a priority and never neglect them. I’ve heard and read numerous times that one of the key elements of creating a successful business is to make your customers a priority. Don’t just take the customer’s purchase for face value as the revenue/customer is probably more than you think it is. In a business course I took with T. Harv Eker, he said that a key to creating repeat customers, is to try to create win-win situations with them rather than just going for the quick sale. “Take the value ‘We treat customers the way we would want to be treated.’ That’s pretty tangible, but Bank One had literally identified the ten or twelve behaviors that made that value come to life. Here are some of them: Never let profit center conflicts get in the way of doing what is right for the customer. Give customers a good, fair deal. Great customer relationships take time. Do not try to maximize short-term profits at the expense of building those enduring relationships. Always look for ways to make it easier to do business with us. Communicate daily with your customers. If they are talking to you, they can’t be talking to a competitor. Don’t forget to say thank you.“
2. Create a worthy and respectable mission statement and set of values that you will abide to. Having a clear mission, or purpose, will help your business focus on that goal. If your employees aren’t sure what that mission is, then they’re not going to be sure what they’re working or striving for. In addition, I don’t think that having a mission is just for businesses, I believe that everyone should have a personal mission as well to help guide them in life and to give their life a greater purpose or meaning. My personal mission and goal currently is to become financially free so I can spend my time with those who matter in my life and to help make a difference in those of need. Everyday I think about it and create little steps that push me forward to achieving that mission. “This chapter opened with the observation that people in business talk a lot about mission and values, but too often the result is more hot air than real action. No one wants it that way, but the loftiness and the imprecision inherent in both terms always seem to make it end up like that. But there is too much to lose by not getting your mission straight and by not making your values concrete. I’m not saying your company will collapse in flames the way Arthur Andersen and Enron did—they are extreme examples of a mission-and-values meltdown. But I am saying your company will not reach anywhere near its full potential if all that is guiding it is a list of pleasant platitudes hanging on the lobby wall. Look, I realize that defining a good mission and developing the values that support it takes time and enormous commitment. There will be long, contentious meetings when you would rather go home. There will be e-mail debates when you wish you could just go do real work. There will be long, contentious meetings when you would rather go home. There will be e-mail debates when you wish you could just go do real work. There will be painful times when you have to say good-bye to people you really like who just do not get the mission or live its values. On days like those, you might wish your mission and values were vague and generic. They can’t be. Take the time. Spend the energy. Make them real.“
3. The need for change will always occur. As economies grow, societies change, and demographics shift, a change in business is necessary to keep up with the change in trends in order to stay in business. I believe that this is one of the reasons why a high percentage of businesses “fail” within the first few years as they weren’t able to adapt to what the market wanted. Instead of reading what the market wanted, they were egocentric in their thinking and trying to push their idea on to others. Seems like no one wanted home on-demand cleaning services. “I’M SURE YOU’VE NOTICED the hand-wringing and hyperventilating about change out there. For more than a decade, there has been a whole industry devoted to the topic, all of it selling pretty much the same line: change or die. Well…it’s true. Change is an absolutely critical part of business. You do need to change, preferably before you have to. What you’ve heard about resistance to change is also true. People hate it when their bosses announce a “transformation initiative.” They run back to their cubicles and frantically start e-mailing one another with reasons it’s going to ruin everything. Frankly, most people hate it when they find out their favorite coffee shop is closing. The Times of London changed to a tabloid format, and the editor told me he received a letter asking him how it felt to be the person responsible for ending Western civilization. People love familiarity and patterns. They cling to them. The phenomenon is so entrenched it can only be chalked up to human nature. But attributing a behavior to human nature doesn’t mean you have to be controlled by it. Yes, managing change can sometimes feel like moving a mountain. But managing change can also be incredibly exciting and rewarding, particularly when you start seeing results. During my years at GE, we were in a pretty constant state of change. Most companies today are. You have to be if you want to stay in the game, let alone win.“
By Ryan Timothy Lee
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