The compelling attractiveness of fewer ideas
The compelling attractiveness of fewer ideas

The compelling attractiveness of fewer ideas

Too many ideas, all at once, can lead to overload
6 min.
October 2017

How many ideas did Jack Welch need to unleash to reinvent General Electric in the 1980s, as the Cold War wound down and the world economy approached major technological and geo-political inflection points? It turns out not that many! And, let us not forget that this led to a remarkable remaking of what was already a highly successful organization, but an organization which was most likely unprepared for the world that was to come and in need of rethinking.

At that time, I was fortunate to work with one of Welch’s regular golfing partners, who returned one week from an outing with Jack to speculate that “Jack Welch has had only six ideas in his entire career”, and then went on to demonstrate the successes born out of Welch’s relentless application of a few simple, yet powerful ideas: six sigma, bottom 10%, Toyota’s asset management system, and the rest that we all knew so well (none of which were original to GE, by the way; more to his credit). I continue to think about this a lot, as I believe that there are times and places, especially in senior leadership positions, where fewer ideas are better than more!


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