Years ago Jack Welch rounded on Michael Porter and me in a Wall Street Journal article. To Welch’s chagrin, both of us had the temerity to suggest in print that the Edisonian spirit of banner innovation was atrophying at GE. Well, I’d agree that Welch earned a helluva 20-year report card, but it seems that successor Jeff Immelt is aiming to turn GE back toward its roots.
Consider this assessment from July’s Business 2.0: “Welch was to a large degree a growth-by-acquisition man. ‘In the late ’90s,’ Immelt says, ‘we became business traders and not business growers. Today organic growth is absolutely the biggest task of every one of our companies. If we don’t hit our organic revenue targets, people are not going to get paid.’ … Immelt has staked GE’s future growth on the force that guided the company at its birth and for much of its history: breathtaking, mind-blowing, earth-rattling technological innovation.”
Strong/unequivocal language indeed … and intriguingly aligned with the Wells Fargo/Dick Kovacevich comment in another of today’s blogs. A trend is born? Life beyond monster acquisitions? Is the end nigh for Giant Bumbler + Giant Bumbler = Cool?