Jack Welch's CEO memoir, "Jack: Straight from the Gut," came out in 2001. Since then he got divorced and then married a former editor at the Harvard Business Review who's the co-author of this book. He's also spent a lot of time giving speeches and answering questions from audiences.
The book is based his answers to those questions. But we don't get the answers raw, or even straight from the gut.
Jack got to deliver many of the same answers over and over, giving him time to reflect and clarify his own expression. Then, Jack's wife Suzy crafted, shaped, and sharpened the answers still further.
The knowledge you get from this book is like the ingredients in a great soup. Quality ingredients are critical if you want a great soup. But the cooking, the interaction with other ingredients and the ministrations of a good cook make the final product better than the sum of the parts.
There are four key ingredients in Welch's soup. People are the most important thing. Candor is essential. The business race is more like a marathon than a sprint. To win the race you need the minimum amount of planning and the maximum amount of running.
Just like in a soup, the ingredients interact and intertwine. They show up in every section and almost every chapter. They make this a very rich soup indeed. But it is not a perfect soup.
Welch was the CEO of a very big company for more than two decades and spent his entire working life there. Those facts make a difference in how much of this book will be valuable for you.
This book is written with a big company perspective. If you're in a smaller company, especially a micro-business, you will probably find whole sections of this book, such as the one on Mergers and Acquisitions, entirely irrelevant.
This book is written with a CEO's perspective. If your position is closer to the middle or the bottom of the organizational chart, you will probably find whole sections of this book frustrating because they offer ways to change processes that you experience, but don't command. You'll probably find the discussions of changing the performance appraisal and budgeting processes interesting and stimulating, but unable to offer you anything concrete you can achieve.
Pick up a copy of the book and look through it. Or, use the "Look Inside the Book" feature on Amazon. Check out sections that interest you to see if they offer value you can use. Even if you find whole sections that won't help you, though, I think you'll find several things in this book that are worth the cover price all by themselves.
In general, the section on leadership is excellent, with rich advice on hiring and firing. No matter what business or organizational position you're in, you'll find value here.
The section on handling a crisis is written from that big company perspective. But it's also chock-full of wisdom for anyone who's going to face a crisis, which is everyone.
If you're looking for "how-to" advice, you may find it here, but check out the book before buying to be sure. If you're looking for insights and opinions that will stretch your own business thinking, you'll find bucketsful in this book.
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