Winning: The Answers: Confronting 74 of the Toughest Questions in Business Today by Jack Welch

Last month I read Winning: The Answers: Confronting 74 of the Toughest Questions in Business Today by Jack Welch & Suzy Welch (I read Winning in April 2008).

I really enjoyed Winning but I thought Winning: The Answers was just okay.

Each of the 74 chapters starts with a question and the questions are broken down into the following categories / sections:

Global Competition: On the Brave New World
Leadership: On Being a Better Boss
Management Principles and Practices: On Running a Business to Win
Careers: On Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of a Promotion
Privately Held: On Working for the Family
Winning and Losing: On Why Business is Good

And each section starts with a one to two page essay on the subject.

The Welchs write a weekly column in Business Week, called The Welch Way, answering questions about business and as they write in the introduction to Winning: The Answers much of the book comes from this no-nonsense column written in the same to-the-point optimistic style as Winning.

I particularly like Question 16, Building Trust From the Top Down:

Is there a short answer for building trust in the workplace?

-Johannesburg, South Africa

To which the Welchs begin their response with:

Yes, very short: Say what you mean, and do what you say!

I also like Question 54, Am I An Entrepreneur:

I am currently a consultant with a small organizational development firm, but I dream about starting my own business. How do I know if I have what it takes to be an entrepreneur? I always experience such conflicting emotions when it comes to this issue.

-Johannesburg, South Africa

To which the Welchs reply with four questions to help the consultant answer his own questions:

  1. Do you have a great new idea that makes your product or service compelling to customers in a way no competitor can match?
  2. Do you have the stamina to hear “no” over and over again and keep smiling?
  3. Do you hate uncertainty? If so, stop reading here.
  4. Do you have the personality to attract bright people to chase your dream with you?

Some of the questions also come from talks the Welchs have given since the publication of Winning or from the lectures they have given at their respective business schools (Jack teaches as MIT’s Sloan School of Management and Suzy teaches at Babson College’s Center for Women’s Leadership).

I don’t doubt that the Welchs provide much insight in their weekly column, I just don’t like my books to feel like a bound version of such a column. Especially since such writing can quickly become outdated.

Though I suppose if you really look up to Jack Welch, this book could come in handy as a reference guide when you want to find out Welch’s ideas on a particular topic.

I recommend that folks pick up a copy of Winning to learn about Jack Welch‘s business methods and ideas but don’t bother with Winning: The Answers and just start reading Business Week’s The Welch Way on-line or just visit the Welch’s website.


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