How Big Companies Transform, Survive and Prosper: Lessons from GE


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In a business world, where everything happens faster, large companies need to become more agile and flexible. Some decide to make a few changes; others decide to go all in.

GE goes all in. Their FastWorks program is not just about getting better products and services to market faster. It is about transforming the entire +300,000 company.

Here you get a collection of good reads on GE´s FastWorks program. I have included some short snippets on each read, but you should go through all of them to get an idea of how important the program is for GE and why it should inspire other large companies to initiate similar programs.


How One Multinational Conglomerate Radically Changed Its Company Culture and Saved Millions
“They also stopped rewarding people for being “right. Working in Six Sigma for so many years created an environment where employees were terrified of being wrong, says Janice, which led to a cultural fear of failure. So Janice’s team trashed the old perfection-focused ethos and instituted a new, five point plan in its place, which her team unveiled in discussions with GE’s business leaders:

“Our five belief statements are: customers determine our success, stay lean to go fast, learn and adapt to win, empower and inspire each other, and deliver results in an uncertain world,” says Janice.

They wanted the top brass to really understand that failures are part of the iteration process.”

For Big Companies, The Perks of Thinking Like a Startup
“FastWorks applies Lean Startup principles such as developing a Minimum Viable Product − the simplest, most stripped-down prototype of a new product that can still yield information about how well it’s doing its intended job. “The principle is that every feature you add, you have to put a lot of thought to it, and it delays you. That can waste time,” Ganeshalingam says.”

How GE Applies Lean Startup Practices
“Historically, GE revised products every five years, and they would have kept their new products under wraps. But as Kevin Nolan, vice president of technology, said, “With FastWorks we’re learning that speed is our competitive advantage. How do we become much more open and collaborative with the customer base? You can’t do that if you want to be secretive.”

How GE Plans to Act Like a Startup and Crowdsource Breakthrough Ideas
“They decided to try it anyway; and the resulting program, FastWorks, is something of an internal overhaul at GE. All across the company, employees and managers are being trained refocus and retool their workflow. “We’re saying to people it’s ok to try things earlier, it’s ok to bring customers in earlier,” says Comstock. “You’re giving people a lot more freedom to move faster to make more small mistakes.”

General Electric Wants to Act Like a Startup
“The lean startup movement has its detractors. Michael Sharkey, co-founder of San Francisco-based marketing automation company Autopilot, says the process actually stymies innovation by focusing on refining features rather than developing entirely new products. “There are severe drawbacks when you think about it creating the next Google (GOOG),” he says. While Sharkey acknowledges that there are benefits to the strategy, many large corporations can’t move fast enough to take advantage of them. “A company as large as GE needs to run like a thousand separate startups in itself to succeed.””

Oh, FastWorks is not the only program worth paying attention to at GE.

Just consider this message on their website: “GE is transforming itself to become the world’s premier digital industrial company, executing critical outcomes for our customers.”

Digital is the future.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Stefan Lindegaard
Stefan is an author, speaker, facilitator and consultant focusing on open innovation, social media tools and intrapreneurship.


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