by Jack Welch with Suzi Welch

Winning is a book about management by Jack Welch, CEO of General Electric from 1981-2001. There is a theme of cutting through the clutter. An entire chapter is devoted to the importance of candor. On strategy, he writes “the scientific approach to strategy… peddled by countless consulting firms” is unproductive.

Much of the book is about managing people. In Jack’s differentiation approach, the top 20% are rewarded and the bottom 10% are weeded out. The middle 70 percent need to be kept engaged and motivated; people with potential to move up should be cultivated. “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”

Jack says to “think of a merger as a huge talent grab—a people opportunity that would otherwise take you years of searching and countless fees to headhunters. Don’t squander it.”  Regarding organic growth, Jack recognizes that managing a $50,000 new product line in its first year is harder than managing a $500 million business in its twentieth year.

The book is written with one voice, but it seems like some of the examples are from Suzi’s experience, not Jack’s. An example is the story of Lee, the bad boss in charge of a small group of writers (page 306).  It’s hard to imagine Jack would have ever met Lee, let alone spent enough time with him to describe his management style, but it is quite possible Suzi worked for him.

In chapter 17 Jack mentions that he earned a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Illinois in 1961 before starting his career developing plastics at GE.  But the plainspoken, first-person writing style reads more like we’re getting advice from Jack than a lesson from Dr. Welch.

Welch, Jack, and Suzy Welch. Winning. New York: HarperBusiness Publishers, 2005. Buy from

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