Jack Welch began to recognize
that employees were an important source of brainpower for
new and creative ideas, he wanted to create an environment that pushes
towards "a relentless, endless
companywide search for a better way to do
everything we do."
25 Lessons from
The Work-Out program was a way to
reduce bureaucracy and give every
employee, from managers to factory workers, an opportunity to influence and
improve GE's day-to-day
the goal of the
Work-Out program was to "clean up" GE, to
make workers more productive and
simpler and more clear-cut.
Work-Out was also designed to reduce, and
ultimately eliminate all of the
and energy that large organizations typically expend in performing
In Welch's words, Work-Out is meant to help
people stop "wrestling with the boundaries, the absurdities that grow in
large organizations. We're all familiar with those absurdities: too many
approvals, duplication, pomposity, waste."
The Work-Out "in essence turned the company
upside down, so that the workers told the bosses what to do. That forever
changed the way people behaved at the company."3
Choosing the Name
The program lacked the name at the start.
Because Welch had talked about "working out" the nonsense of GE, and dealing
with problems that had to be "worked out", the name Work-Out was chosen.
Making Change Really Happen
In most organizations,
change efforts come and go
– and rarely make a difference. But at GE, one of the largest
companies in the world, one particular change process helped spark a
complete transformation – Work-Out. With Work-Out as part of its DNA, GE has
become one of the most
and admired companies on earth.1
The Work-Out Concept
At its core, Work-Out is a very simple concept
based on the premise that those closest to the work know it best. When the
ideas of those people, irrespective of their functions and job titles, are
solicited and turned immediately into action, an unstoppable wave of
and productivity is unleashed
throughout the organization.
At GE, Work-Out "Town Meetings" gave the
corporation access to an unlimited resource of imagination and
energy of its
GE Capital used to give vehicle fleet leasing
customers a 500-pages report of monthly usage with all backup detail. No
customer read this huge report however. This problem was brought up at a
Work-Out session. It was decided to give customers much shorter 30-page
summary reports – not all backup detail. Implementation of this decision
resulted in less paper, postage, labor savings from less handling,
reductions in computer processing time and customer queries, and
US$100,000 in savings...