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The Growth Values: How GE aligned its culture with its growth strategy

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GE Capital

The Growth Values: How GE aligned its culture with its growth strategy
growth to GEs more than 300,000 employees would take more than an edict or a company-wide email from the chairmans office. He knew that infusing growth throughout the company would require a fundamental shift in corporate culture. Cultivating a culture of growth To sow the seeds of growth in the company, Immelt began to remake the companys vocabulary. He refined the focus of GEs annual strategic planning process and renamed it Growth Playbook. In order to make growth the focus of every GE employee in every GE business, in every part of the world Immelt knew the company would need to revisit its leadership values. In fact, because GE views all of its employees as leaders, it was likely that the company was going to need an entirely new set of values growth values against which every aspect of the companys performance would be measured. Because this new set of values would serve as the foundation of leadership and performance throughout GE, it was critically important that they be comprehensive in scope and exact in definition. There was an existing set of values at GE, but they were not focused on those aspects of leadership that would drive growth in todays world. So, in 2003, Immelt assembled an executive team to revisit the core values of the company. The first step of this process involved an intensive set of interviews and focus groups about GE. In this GE Success Factors Project, senior leaders from every business and functional area of the company were asked about their leadership approach. They were asked what worked, what didnt, and what had helped make them successful. And most importantly, they were asked, What will it take for GE to be successful in the future? The results were collected and reviewed, put into the context of GEs growth strategy, boiled down, and finally edited by Immelt himself, in 2005, into five compact Growth Values which serve as GEs expectations for all employees: External Focus, Clear Thinker, Imagination & Courage, Inclusiveness, and Expertise. Satisfied with these Growth Values, GE teams began integrating them into every aspect of GEs operations. Every course at Crotonville GEs world-renowned leadership institute was aligned with the Growth Values. And perhaps most importantly, the values were embedded in the performance-management system that determines rewards and incentives across the company. GE was already a performance-driven culture, but this new aspect of including the Growth Values in performance reviews ensured that compensation would be based not just on what an employee did, but how they did it. We wanted to make sure the Growth Values are not just posted on a wall or sent around in a companywide email, but actually woven into the culture, says Janice Semper, Manager, Executive Development at GE. This was done very thoughtfully, systematically, and deliberately. Adjusting to global trends For the next three years, GEs Growth Values defined and drove the companys new culture of growth. Then, in 2009, the global economic recession and other world trends led us to reevaluate the Growth Values to ensure they were still aligned with what was happening in the world, and with the challenges our leaders were facing.

A new leader for a new time In 2001, Jeff Immelt took over as the CEO of GE. As does any new leader, Immelt brought with him a distinct point of view about where GE needed to go in an even more complex and global market. He knew that operating in this century would require leaders to be continuously focused on growing themselves and their businesses. In fact, organic growth was to become the primary focus throughout the company. At the time, GE was known more for execution and efficiency than growth. And Immelt knew that promoting

The Growth Values: How GE aligned its culture with its growth strategy

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GE Growth Values
External Focus Clear Thinker Imagination & Courage Inclusiveness Expertise

Is in tune with customers and environment, connects with stakeholders, and is educated on global issues

Embraces and adapts to uncertainty, connects strategy to purpose and inspires, uses knowledge and instinct decisively, and hits commitments

Generates innovative ideas, takes risks and learns from success and failure, and challenges bureaucracy

Welcomes ideas, listens and is humble, collaborates with respect to individuals and cultures, and drives engagement

Has domain expertise, continuously develops self and others, and leverages technology

Always with unyielding integrity

Always with unyielding integrity Jeff [Immelt] asked the very bold question in early 2009 of whether these were still the right values, the right behaviors, given that the world had fundamentally changed, says Semper. Considering everything we had done to embed these values throughout the company, it was a courageous question to ask. This time, GE looked outside the company for perspective, and set about gathering opinions on todays leadership requirements in particular. A few dozen of the companys most senior executives were sent around the world to meet with leaders from more than 100 organizations, including large multinationals, small start-ups in emerging markets, universities, military institutionsanywhere leadership is taught and practiced. The process of unflinchingly reevaluating leadership in the new context of the global environment lasted more than a year and engaged leaders throughout the company. And the outcome was that the five Growth Values were still relevant, but we contemporized the definitions of each one to more accurately reflect the global environment. The return on investment on the Growth Values cannot be measured in a traditional sense. In fact, GE believes so strongly in cultivating its culture that efforts like these are not required to justify a return on investment. However, the alignment that the Growth Values have enabled between the companys overarching strategy, its leadership, and the culture of the company is impossible to deny. The Growth Values drive behavior throughout the company. And they continue to guide not only what we do, but how we do it.
The Growth Values: How GE aligned its culture with its growth strategy

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