Words of wisdom: Jack Welch – “Deal with the world as it is…”

I thought that I’d share with you one of the great things that I learned while working for GE (over a decade ago). In a training session, Jack Welch told us:

Deal with the world as it is, not how you’d like it to be

His words didn’t hit me as being particularly profound at the time, but I have really come to appreciate their wisdom. All too often, I hear executives discuss their strategies within the context of how they “expect” the world to operate. They often believe that customers think about their company and its products more often than they actually do, that people and processes can be changed more rapidly than they can, and that their strategies translate directly into implementation plans — which all too often they don’t.

I’ve seen this problem show up a lot when situations are bad. Rather than facing tough problems, some executives find it easier to act like the issues don’t exist. Bad idea! You can’t make problems go away by pretending that they aren’t there. All that happens is that mistaken underlying assumptions end up driving bad decisions.

To apply this wisdom to customer experience, I recommend that you periodically (that’s my nice way of saying “often”) step back and ask yourself (as well as your staff): “Do we have a clear picture of what customers really want?” But don’t just move ahead if the answer is “no.” In the long run, you’ll want to put in place processes that help you answer “yes” to that question more often (see my post on Experience-Based Differentiation).

I hope that you get as much out of Jack’s words as I have.

Written by 

I'm an experience (XM) management catalyst; helping organizations improve results by engaging the hearts and minds of their employees, customers, and partners. I enjoy researching and speaking about leading-edge XM topics. I lead the Qualtrics XM Institute, which is the world's best job. We're igniting a global community of XM Professionals who are inspired and empowered to radically improve the human experience. To achieve this goal, my team focuses on thought leadership, training, and community building. My work is driven by a set of fundamental beliefs: 1) Everything starts and ends with human beings, so you need to understand how people think, feel, and behave; 2) XM is a discipline that needs to be woven throughout an organization's entire operating fabric; and 3) Building the XM discipline requires a combination of culture, competency, and technology.

5 thoughts on “Words of wisdom: Jack Welch – “Deal with the world as it is…””

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.