Monday, April 14, 2008

Failures of Jeffery Immelt - CEO of General Electric

In 1992, I was running all the commercial operations for the plastics business at GE. We had a product called Nuvel, which was a sheet product that would go over wood to try to create the poor man's Corian countertops. Turns out the thing just didn't work. Any time you dropped a coin on it, it would leave a mark that you couldn't get out unless you buffed it with sandpaper. It was a classic case of just not asking the right questions up front.

Your Mistake Probably Isn't that Big:
This one was my mistake. I let the need for speed overwhelm doing enough upfront market research and testing. It was a $20 million mistake. We caught it after about three months. Customers would complain. At first, you go through this denial phase: "You don't understand" the product, and stuff like that.

Listen to Others, Do Your Due Dilligence First:
It made me learn about listening better. I'm more disciplined on the upfront stuff now than I was then. I wanted to do something big and exciting, and I wanted to do it now rather than wait a year. I 'fessed up: stepped up, made up for the financial hit we had to take on it by exceeding sales targets on other products, and made good to the customers. I think that I got better at understanding the need for research and more thought up front, so you don't have to redo things.

Learn From Your Mistakes:
You're never allowed in GE to make the same mistake twice. You're allowed to make the mistake once. If you try something and it fails, but you went about it the right way and you learned from it, that's not a bad thing.

Fabulous Failures of Successful People - BusinessWeek

No comments: