Jack Welch’s ABC People Strategy

Did he have confidence, courage, or just a great determination?  He certainly was extremely creative and ambitious.   I am fascinated by many of his strategies.  ABC was one of the one's that really struck me. 

I think he really cared about people.  He had this theory about people in his organization.  He said there A's and B's and C's.  The A's were the stars, the B's were good guys and the C's had to shape up.  The C's were the botton 10%.  He felt that the bottom 10% should not stay with the organization.  I have wondered about that but on reflection clearly they did not fit with their job and should make a change.  He found it very difficult but when he asked someone to leave it was not a surprized to them and he said he treated them well.  It sounds a bit cold and callous and I think we will find it difficult but the people need to know that they must perform or they will be left behind.

In my consulting business, I fired several people and it was never easy but they were not surprized.  On reflection, I should have done more.   Several people just did not fit with consulting and eventually thwy left.  We should have given them severernce and gave them a chance to find a better fit.  By tolerating them in the organiztion I think demotivated others.   I used to criticize organizations that had an up or out philosophy.  I wonder if it was as bad as I thought.  

Jack really got me thinking.

  1. Graham Reply

    I think Jack stole this ABC idea from Douglas Adam’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. He introduced the concept as three ships, the A ship had all the scientists and engineers, the B ship had all the workers and physical labourers, and C ship had all the hair dressers, middle managers, and telephone sanitizers .. Or as paraphrase the ship full of useless bloody loonies.
    While that’s very funny, unfortunately, sometimes, people don’t or can’t or choose not to meet expectations. When this happens nobody wins.

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