Learn how Jeffrey Immelt and GE undertook the massive task of transitioning from a classic conglomerate to a global technology-driven company.
Read the full article at: hbr.org
Jeffrey Immelt has a great success story to tell about changing a company and leading transformation. He explains what a leader has to think and how a leader has to act in order to spearhead and sustain massive change. It’s a story any leader trying to make serious change could benefit from reading. Also, it’s a story whose lessons could be applied to achieving substantive change generally – whether a business makeover or a personal one.
From 2001 to 2017, Immelt was CEO of GE – 6000 days as he recalls. “For the past 16 years GE has been undergoing the most consequential makeover in its history. We were a classic conglomerate. Now people are calling us a 125-year-old start-up—we’re a digital industrial company that’s defining the future of the internet of things. Change is in our DNA: We compete in today’s world to solve tomorrow’s challenges. We have endured because we have the determination to shape our own future.”
The article relates the lessons Immelt learned along this 16-year journey that “introduced major, interconnected changes to GE’s portfolio, innovation strategy, global presence, strategic focus, and organizational management.” According to Immelt, “GE is famous for creating and religiously implementing processes for managing virtually everything we do. The task of transformation is no different.”
What, then, are the lessons Immelt learned during this process of transformation?
- Be disciplined and focused. You need a point of view.
- Soak. You have to go through a period of rewiring your brain.
- Make It Existential. Treat it as if it were life or death.
- Be all in. You must make a bold, sustained commitment.
- Be resilient. Have staying power. Transformations take time.
- Be Willing to Pivot. You have to listen and act at the same time.
- Embrace new kinds of talent. A new culture, and new ways of doing things.
We in the change business know transformation is not easy. It is game changing, necessary for staying competitive, in some cases, and in others, essential for survival. It is all these, but it is not easy. Immelt provides some really sound nuggets about transformational change based on years of experience and success. Leaders looking to make big changes in their businesses would be wise to heed his advice.
Contact us and we can help you plan for and implement changes in your business. We can help with the process of transformation.