Working Wisdom: quote about innovation and technology

“If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.”

Jack Welch (born John Francis ‘Jack’ Welch Jr. in Massachusetts on 19 November 1935) is a retired American business executive who was named ‘Manager of the Century’ by Fortune magazine in 1999. A qualified chemical engineer, he joined General Electric (GE) in 1961. He rose up through the company, eventually serving as chairman and CEO of the firm from 1981 to 2001. Under Welch’s leadership, GE increased its market value by 4,000%, making around 600 acquisitions and shifting into emerging markets. He worked to eradicate perceived inefficiency by trimming inventories and dismantling bureaucracy. For example, he adopted the Six Sigma quality programme in late 1995.

Welch also pioneered a policy of informality at the work place, allowing all employees to have a ‘small-business’ experience at a large corporation. Since retiring from GE, in addition to his consulting and advisory roles, Welch has been active on the public speaking circuit and has become a prolific author. He also founded the Jack Welch Management Institute (JWMI) offering an online executive MBA programme which is regarded as a highly influential education brand. This quote comes from the GE Annual Report in 2000, which states, under the heading ‘Relishing Change’: “We have a company that […] sees change always as a source of excitement, always as opportunity, rather than as threat or crisis […] because it is the oxygen of our growth.”

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