Change Management Success Stories - Part 2

Change Management Success Stories - Part 2
General Electric

This week we continue to focus on companies that have had success implementing change management.

General Electric

In the 1980s, General Electric (GE) began to put a greater focus on quality control. Their “Work-Out” program encouraged openness to ideas from anyone and everyone. This led to a learning environment that laid the groundwork for implementing Six Sigma in the 1990s.

Six Sigma involves a painstaking and thorough evaluation of every process and procedure within a company. The goal is to find and eliminate “defects” that can waste a company’s time, money, and resources.

In 1995, Jack Welch, CEO of General Electric, announced that he wanted GE to be a Six Sigma company by 2000. The steps to reach this goal were extensive. To start, all exempt employees had to take a 13-day 100-hour training program to learn Six Sigma methodologies. Following the training, these employees would have to complete a Six Sigma project within a given time frame. The training covered the DMAICprocedure (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control), a core component of Six Sigma.

One major reason for the success of Six Sigma at GE was the mentoring that was a vital part of it. It started with hiring full-time Master Black Belts - experts on Six Sigma who would coach employees within the company. These Master Black Belts then trained and mentored key employees for the Black Belt level and oversaw these new Black Belts as they began to use Six Sigma tools and ideas. Full-time Black Belt teams then began to implement Six Sigma projects throughout the company. Employees who were trained in Six Sigma and then implemented the training alongside their other job responsibilities were designated as Green Belts.

The implementation of the program would have failed were it not for Jack Welch’s effective leadership. He supported Six Sigma wholly, finding the financial resources for it as well as ensuring commitment from senior executives and from the workforce. He and other top managers attended Six Sigma sessions where they answered employee questions during the training. They also visited employees in their work environments to see how the implementation of the program was going and attended weekly summaries and monthly reviews with the Master Black Belt team.

The success of Six Sigma at GE translated into hundreds of millions of dollars in profits and savings for GE. After its implementation, there was a noticeable change in the culture of the company, with a greater emphasis on quality. This was seen in a marked improvement in product reliability.

So, what can you take away from this week’s success story?

Your people are your greatest asset.

Jack Welch said,
“Trust the people in your organization - the people in the best position
to improve a business are the people in the job every day.”


This is what happens when you trust the WRONG people from outside your organization,
who have no idea how critical letters can be...