Organizational Behaviour: a Look at Ge

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Organizational Behavior: A look at General Electric
In the history of corporations few companies have demonstrated the staying power and tenacity as General Electric (GE.). Of the companies that originally appeared when the Dow Jones Industrial Average was rolled out in 1896 only GE is still doing business today. (General Electric, 2007) GE’s 125 year run has not been spotless. GE, like any long lasting organization, has had many ups and downs. GE’s past has at times been glorious and at other times has been dark and manipulative. “GE traces its beginnings to Thomas A. Edison, who established Edison Electric Light Company in 1878. In 1892, a merger of Edison General Electric Company and Thomson-Huston Electric Company created General
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The fundamental problem could have been summed up by the idea of trying to squeeze orange juice from the rind. Individual employees and managers could not keep up and the company was quickly digging a deeper hole.
By 1988 the problem could no longer be ignored. Jim Baughman, the head of GE’s management development center was charged with the task of correcting the problem. “In a memorable conversation, Welch and Baughman said to each other, ‘Let’s find a way to get work out of the system.’” (Ashkenas, 2002) The innovative system seemed clear: Teams. Teams would help to reduce the individual work load and get work through the system. The new team approach was aptly named, “Work-Out.”
The “Work-Out” team approach created by Welch and Baughman utilizes small cross-functional teams that investigate problems. The teams generate ideas and solutions that are presented to the decision makers in an informal “town meeting” The informal nature of Welch and Baughman’s team approach was created with the clever notion that GE should be run not like a huge conglomerate, but rather like a small company. The vision (which is still being pursued by GE today) was to create a team environment that was not restricted by departments, business units or company leadership.
By the mid-1990s it was clear that the “Work-Out” system was having a profound positive impact on GE. Teams, innovating and working without traditional limitations was saving the company.

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