Monday, July 25, 2005

Jeff Immelt: A candid conversation with the CEO of General Electric about leadership, creativity, fear -- and what it's really like to run the world

[July 2005 - Fast Company] What's the idea behind imagination breakthroughs? ... We had to have some way to pull ideas out of the pile, make sure they were funded, and really try to redefine what it meant to innovate in a big company. We started two years ago. We tested the time-honored tradition of pulling things out of the pile, putting good people on them, and finding ways to share ideas. In the beginning, we said, "Let's start with ideas that could generate more than $100 million of incremental revenue." We had 30 ideas. It was almost nothing for a company of our size. About 20 of them turned out to be good projects, from a dual card for consumer finance to a hybrid locomotive for GE railcars. What's magical about them? We picked who would lead them, and every penny is funded. Our leaders know they have to pony up. So I now have 80 projects inside the company that are fully funded with the best people we can find. The big difference is that the business leaders have no choices here. Nobody is allowed not to play. Nobody can say, "I'm going to sit this one out." That's the way you drive change. More

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