GE’s Work-Out General Electric
GE’s Work-Out General Electric established its worked process in the early 1990s. it continues
to be a mainstay in GE’s efforts to has also been adopted by such divers organizations as General
Motors, Home Depot, Frito-Lay, L.L. Bean, Sears, IBM, and the World Bank. The impetus for
the Work- Out was the belief by GE’s CEO that the company’s culture was too bureaucratic and
slow to respond to change. He wanted to create a vehicle that would effectively engage and
empower GE workers. Essentially, Work-Out brings together employees and managers from
many different functions and levels within an organization for an informal 3-day meeting to
discuss and solve problems that have been identified by employees or senior management. Set
into small teams, people are encouraged to challenge prevailing assumptions about “the way we
have always done things” and develop recommendations for significant improvements in
organizational processes. The Work-Out teams then present their recommendations to a senior
manager in a public gathering called a Town Meeting. At the town Meeting, the manager in
charge oversees a discussion about the recommendation and then is required to make a yes-or-no
decision on the spot. Only in unusual circumstances can a recommendation be tabled for further
study. Recommendations that are accepted are assigned to managers who have volunteered to
carry them out. Typically, a recommendation will move from inception in 90 days or less. The
logic behind the Work-Out is to identify problems, stimulate divers input, and provide a
mechanism for speedy decision and action. More recently GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt has extended
the Work-Out concept to build capabilities in anticipating future technologies and engage in long
range planning. GE wants all its managers to be adept at the kind of strategic thinking that most
companies entrust only to senior management. For example, GE is offering managers new
classes focused on learning how to create new lines of business.
1. What type of change process would you call this? Explain.
2. Why should it work?
3. What negative consequences do you think might result from this process?
4. Why so you think new GE CEO Jeff Immelt has revised the Work-Out concept?