Lights Out: Pride, Delusion, and the Fall of General Electric” is a book written by Thomas Gryta and Ted Mann. It provides a detailed account of the decline and downfall of one of America’s most iconic companies, General Electric (GE). The book explores the internal culture, leadership decisions, and strategic missteps that led to GE’s dramatic decline and loss of its once-stellar reputation. It sheds light on the hubris, excessive risk-taking, and financial mismanagement that ultimately brought the company to its knees. Through extensive research and interviews, the authors paint a compelling picture of the unravelling of a corporate giant and offer insights into the lessons that can be learned from GE’s collapse.

Winning was my one if the first book when I started reading leadership and management book. Jack Weltch’s unapologetic style of “winning at all cost” and building “winning team” by yanking 10% underperformers each year.

The book got me on “the other side of the coin”. The approach fostered a cut-throat and high-stress work environment, leading to short-term thinking and a lack of focus on long-term growth and innovation. Additionally, this strategy led to a loss of valuable talent and demoralized the workforce. Welch’s heavy reliance on financial metrics has also been viewed as prioritizing shareholder value over other important aspects of the business, such as employee development, customer satisfaction, and long-term sustainability.

The book starts with “winning” by Jack Welch and its heavy focus is post 2001 era, which was led by Jeff Immelt. One can see how the big company like GE struggled with the 2001 slow down, impacted by moving focus from organic fuels to green energy, and how it was struggling with red tapes and decisions of few at the top.

The book also provides insight on corporate governance and the importance and role of Directors in shaping and safeguarding the company. An insightful book written to get almost all the aspects of how (not) to manage the big company and insights on how (not) to catch up with upcoming trends and be wary of fads.

Each chapter could be a case study, on how management takes decisions based on external stimuli and how things might go wrong or become a success. Many insights and definitely a good read for my fellow friends!

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