A Team-Based Process for Addressing Problems
Work-Out is an internal process for addressing and quickly solving an organization's problems by utilizing the skills of the people who will be carrying out the process. It is a process that Jack Welch used to turn GE into one of the most successful companies in the world, and it worked wonders in helping GE find better ways to reach its customers, improve margins and efficiency, attract talent, utilize technology and beat the competition. The ideas found in the Work-Out process can also be applied to other types of organizations, and the authors of The GE Work-Out have written this book to demonstrate how. They write that it is not an overnight cure for every organizational woe, but it will help companies solve their problems faster, and eventually, it can become a basis by which an organization can develop skills and a culture that can help streamline operations for better agility.
How Does It Work?
How does Work-Out work? It starts when large groups of employees and managers from different levels of an organization come together to address various issues and concerns. Small teams are formed where people can voice their opinions about a problem, and come up with recommendations for improvements to "the way we've always done things."
These Work-Out teams present their recommendations to a senior manager in a "Town Meeting," where the manager leads the whole group in a discussion about the recommendations. Yes-or-no decisions are then made. Next, the recommendations that make it through this process are assigned to "owners" who volunteer to carry out the changes and follow through on them to get results.
The Work-Out process helped to dramatically reduce bloated bureaucracies at GE by shortening meetings, reports and levels of approval, as well as substantially cut process times in product development and employee communication, among other positive changes. The process can also be applied to just about any other kind of organization, from General Motors to the state of West Virginia. Basically, the process revolves around getting the people who experience the problems involved in the solutions, using a public forum to decide on the solutions, and empowering the people who will carry them out.
The GE Work-Out begins with an overview of how this process evolved at GE, how managers and employees worked out its kinks, and the way they use it today. The book then delves into an explanation of why Work-Out is such a successful problem-solving tool for long-term transformation. To ensure that implementation of the process in your organization goes smoothly, the authors provide ways to help you get past resistance and move forward with the Work-Out.
The next section of The GE Work-Out provides a handbook for organizations that are ready to dive into the Work-Out approach. An overview of the system details the best way to create specific decisions, and how to move forward without losing ground.
Keeping the Plan Flowing
The authors remind their readers that this process will require some time to become ingrained in an organization, and they offer many charts and worksheets to help them keep the plan flowing. Tips for conducting the Town Meeting are combined with real-world examples of how other companies made progress. The roles and responsibilities of all the participants are also described, as are a number of variations in the process that have worked for others. A case study of Zurich Financial Services UK provides a detailed example of how Work-Out can deliver amazing results.
Long-term transformation is the topic of the book's last part, and it says that making Work-Out a natural component of an organization is the key to success. When the Work-Out is part of an organization's culture, the authors write that "natural acts" of better communication and decision making will naturally occur, and sluggish bureaucracies will naturally dissolve.
Why Soundview Likes This Book
The GE Work-Out provides a direct map to organizational transformation through a process that has taken many organizations into better communication and improved problem-solving. The lessons it delivers arethoroughly described, and inspirational messages of encouragement accompany the text to help smooth over rough spots on the path to implementation. The authors remove any uncertainty about the Work-Out process by organizing its principles, tools and actions into an easy-to-follow guide that not only makes using them easy, but provides a background for each step which makes that step seem logical and essential.