Winning - The Answers : Confronting 74 of the Toughest Questions in Business Today

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2006-11-30
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publications
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In Winning, their 2005 international bestseller, Jack and Suzy Welch created a rare document, both a philosophical treatise on fundamental business practices and a gritty how-to manual, all of it delivered with Jack's trademark candor and can-do optimism. It seemed as if "no other management book," in the words of legendary investor Warren E. Buffett, would "ever be needed." Instead, Winning uncovered an insatiable thirst to talk about work. Since the book's publication, the Welches have received literally thousands of questions from college students and seasoned professionals alike, on subjects ranging from leadership and global competition to tough bosses and building teamwork. Indeed, questions about virtually every business and career challenge have poured in-;some familiar, others surprising, many urgent and probing, and all of them powerfully real. Winning: The Answers takes on the most relevant of these questions, and in doing so, its candid, hard-hitting responses expand and extend the conversation Jack and Suzy Welch began with Winning. It is a dialogue that is sure to be both compelling and immensely useful to anyone and everyone engaged in the vital work of helping an organization grow and thrive.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 1
Global Competition: On the Brave New Worldp. 9
Taking on China...and Everyone Elsep. 10
Is China for Everyone?p. 15
Regarding Russiap. 19
Why Paris Burnedp. 24
Vive l'Europe-Just Not Yetp. 30
Outsourcing Is Foreverp. 35
Getting Global Before It Gets Youp. 38
The Home Field Advantagep. 41
Leadership: On Being a Better Bossp. 45
Are Leaders Born or Made?p. 46
The Leadership Mind-Setp. 49
Tough Guys Finish Firstp. 52
The Ultimate Values Testp. 57
When to Cut the Cordp. 59
The Courage to Become a Change Agentp. 62
Wrestling with Resistersp. 66
Building Trust from the Top Downp. 69
The Perilous Promotion Trapp. 71
Keeping Your People Pumpedp. 74
How to Get Elected Bossp. 80
Winning the Whining Gamep. 84
New Job-Old Team?p. 87
The Smarter They Are...p. 89
Management Principles and Practices: On Running a Business to Winp. 93
Getting the Best Peoplep. 95
The Fight Against Phoninessp. 99
The Limits of Candor-or Notp. 101
The Case for Differentiation...Even in Swedenp. 103
Strategy for Big and Small Alikep. 106
The Consultant Conundrump. 110
The Danger of Doing Nothingp. 112
How Healthy Is Your Company?p. 115
The Real Job of HRp. 119
Staff Functionaries...and Other Filtersp. 123
Stopping Job Cuts Before They Happenp. 127
No More B.S. Budgetingp. 131
Not Invented Where?p. 136
Making Sense of Matrixesp. 140
The Uses and Abuses of Gut Instinctp. 144
What Becomes a Salesperson Mostp. 148
The Slippery Slope of Open Booksp. 151
Preventing a Corporate Katrinap. 153
What's Holding Women Backp. 157
Paying Big-Time for Failurep. 161
Careers: On Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of a Promotionp. 167
What Should I Do with the Rest of My Life?p. 168
Picking the Right Pathp. 171
I Am Who I Amp. 173
Does an MBA Really Matter?p. 175
Dear Graduatep. 178
Big Company or Start-up?p. 181
It Starts with Self-Confidencep. 183
The Truth About Mentoringp. 187
The Bad Boss No-Brainerp. 190
We've Just Been Acquired and I Hate Itp. 193
From Hero to Zerop. 196
Am I an Entrepreneur?p. 199
A Case of Embedded Reputation?p. 202
Why Can't I Get Hired?p. 205
They're Telling You Somethingp. 208
Welcome to the Government, Kidp. 210
Knowing When to Fold 'Emp. 213
Are You a Boss Hater?p. 216
Looking for a Second Actp. 219
Can You Hear It?p. 221
Privately Held: On Working for the Familyp. 223
But What About Tomorrow?p. 224
The Nitty-Gritty on Nepotismp. 227
The Consequences of Cashing Outp. 230
Bringing the Outside Inp. 232
Winning and Losing: On Why Business Is Goodp. 235
The Wages of SOXp. 236
The Cocktail Party Conspiracy Theoryp. 240
What to Tell the Grandchildrenp. 242
Good-Bye, Genghis Khanp. 245
And the Losers Are...p. 248
What's Right About Wal-Martp. 250
The Real Verdict on Businessp. 256
What Do You Call Winning?p. 260
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.


Winning: The Answers
Confronting 74 of the Toughest Questions in Business Today

Chapter One

Taking on China . . . and Everyone Else

You've said that it is necessary to reduce costs by 30 to 40 percent to compete with China, with its negligible wages and undervalued currency. But how can you prevent the Chinese from then copying whatever method you come up with to achieve your goal?
—Newcastle upon Tyne, England

You can't! You can't prevent the Chinese from copying any of your efficiency-boosting processes, and guess what, you can't prevent the Romanians, Mexicans, or the Americans, either. In fact, you have to assume that every one of your competitors, from Indonesia to Ireland, is eager and able to imitate your best practices. And that they will.

Which is why your question is worrisome. It sounds as if you might be getting that no-option-but-surrender feeling about today's competitive environment. But such defeatism kills companies. Instead, you have to get yourself energized by the challenge of finding breakthrough ideas and processes. Today's competitive dynamic has to make you want to run faster, think bigger, and work smarter.

And to what end? The answer is simple: innovation. There are, of course, other ways to compete, but without doubt, innovation is the most sustainable in today's global marketplace.

Luckily, there are two ways to innovate, and together they can deliver a real knockout punch.

The first form of innovation is exactly what you would expect: the discovery of something original and useful—a new molecule, a breakthrough piece of software, a game-changing technology. This kind of classic innovation, of course, can happen by accident (in a garage, say), but far more often, it occurs when companies actively build a culture where new ideas are celebrated and rewarded. It happens, in fact, when companies basically define themselves as laboratories for new products or services. Think of Procter & Gamble and Apple. Both epitomize the innovation culture—and its competitive advantages.

But there is a second, less glorified way of innovation that is just as effective. It is the continuous, aggressive improvement of what you already sell or how you already do business. Yes, people must innovate by discovering totally new concepts, as we've just described. But companies can (and must!) also innovate by searching for best practices, adapting them, and continuously improving them. It is that activity, in particular around costs, quality, and service, which will most effectively drive the 30 to 40 percent cost reductions required in today's competitive environment.

The process of continuous improvement really has no boundaries or limits. It is an R & D team finding a new way to make a long-established molecule do something different, and a software engineer finding new applications for an upgraded piece of old software. It is people throughout the organization pushing relentlessly to take established products and services to the next level, blowing up the status quo of "that's how it's done around here," and replacing it with a mind-set that shouts, "We are never done looking for a better way."

A best-practices culture, in other words, has no endpoint. Once a company thinks it has left the competition somewhere in the dust, it needs to start searching again for the "new and improved," always staying one or two steps ahead.If the search is continuous, it also has to be as wide as you can make it. Don't just seek out best practices hiding under a rock in your own backyard, that is, down the hall in another department or a hundred miles away in another division. Look at other companies in your industry—and outside too. GE learned the nitty-gritty of lean manufacturing by visiting Toyota factories around the world. It learned the art and science of improving inventory turns by studying best practices at American Standard, a plumbing and air-conditioning company. In fact, if there is one thing you can be sure of, it is that companies—if they are not direct competitors, of course—love to share success stories. They are proud to showcase what they are doing well. All you have to do is ask. And ask is what people in best-practices cultures do—all the time.

At this point, perhaps, you are thinking that it is easy to extol the virtues of a best-practices culture but much harder to put one in place. You are absolutely right. Too often, companies resort to sloganeering on this front. They give best practices the old motherhood and apple pie treatment. Best practices are good, they say, we believe in best practices, and so on. Of course, this kind of generic cheerleading results in . . . nothing.

In real best-practices cultures, the fanatic pursuit of new ideas is baked into the mission of the company. Moreover, searching for best practices and the desire to continuously learn and improve are behaviors that are evaluated in every performance appraisal and rewarded financially. In best-practices cultures, leaders hire and promote only people who have a thirst for continuous learning.

Without doubt, putting an innovation culture in place is hard. But doing so is not one of those choices you can sit around and debate. Either you buy into discovery plus continuous, never-ending improvement as a way of life in your company, or you can wave at your competitors—as they pass you by.

Winning: The Answers
Confronting 74 of the Toughest Questions in Business Today
. Copyright © by Jack Welch. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Excerpted from Winning: the Answers: Confronting 74 of the Toughest Questions in Business Today by Jack Welch, Suzy Welch
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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