(photo by @harvard_business_review, on Instagram)
“A CEO has different tasks in different cycles. Some CEOs are founders and builders. Others have the luxury of managing momentum through a stable economy or a period when business models aren’t being disrupted. My task was different: remaking a historic and iconic company during an extremely volatile time. … 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. Although we’re still on the journey, we’ve made great strides in revamping our strategy, portfolio, global footprint, workforce, and culture. GE is famous for creating and religiously implementing processes for managing virtually everything we do. The task of transformation is no different. But my aim in this article—written on the eve of my announcement to transition the leadership of the company—is to share what I’ve learned more broadly about how to lead a giant organization through massive changes. There are several lessons.”
This inspirational article, written by Jeffrey Immelt himself and published on Harvard Business Review, surely reminded me of the book ‘The Strategist’ by Cynthia Montgomery that I’ve introduced to you some time ago. Have you heard of a conglomerate that is a 125-year-old-start-up? Imagine how challenging the task could be. As ‘The Strategist’ highlighted the importance of the leader as the essential strategist in action, who constantly reinvents and swims against the wave if necessary, with clear purpose of the company at the core of the strategy wheel, I could vividly see the very strategist in action from him. I believe ‘being agile’ is the key trait in our time of transition both for individual and for business. Reinventing the giant into a start-up must have been a critical decision to prepare for the fast changing environment.
In the article, he shares seven key lessons he learned during the transformation and I especially appreciated a few: First, the importance of discipline and focus. Second, the profound belief that the world is changing and that the survival of your company depends on either anticipating the change or being in the vanguard of those reacting to it. Here you go. And lastly, resilience.
He mentioned he was inspired by a few books, especially The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. Worth checking out!
Who do you see as a strategist in action?