Case 1: GE’s Two Decade Transformation: Jack Welch’s Leadership-HBS # 9-399- 150
Case Overview: GE is faced with Jack Welch’s impending retirement and whether anyone can sustain the blistering pace of change and growth characteristic of the Welch era. After briefly describing GE’s heritage and Welch’s transformation of the company’s business portfolio of the 1980s, the case chronicles Welch’s revitalization initiatives through the late 1980s and 1990s. It focuses on six of Welch’s major change programs: The “Software” Initiatives, Globalization, Redefining Leadership, Stretch Objectives, Service Business Development, and Six Sigma Quality.
Subjects Covered: Business policy; Change management; Conglomerates; Corporate strategy; Executives; Implementing strategy; Leadership; Organizational change; Organizational culture; Organizational development
- HowdifficultachallengedidWelchfacein1981?Howeffectivelydidhetake charge?
- WhatisWelch’sobjectiveintheseriesofinitiativeshelaunchedinthelate 1980’s and early 1990’s? What is he trying to achieve in the round of changes he put in motion in that period? Is there a logic or rationale supporting the change process?
- Howdoessuchalarge,complexdiversifiedconglomeratedefythecriticsand continue to grow so profitably? Have Welch’s various initiatives added value? If so, how?
- WhatisyourevaluationofWelch’sapproachtoleadingchange?Howimportant is he to GE’s success? What are the implications for his replacement?
N.B.: You never need to look up for information beyond the case to do well in the class. The key is to using the information provided effectively. Collecting additional data is more likely than not to be a distraction.