It didn't make the news, but this is the most important thing you will learn today

The best CEO in the World pinpoints their reason for Success - yet it doesn't make the news.

Jack Welch is arguably the all-time benchmark for high-achieving leadership of a mega-corporation - the poster child for effective CEOs of the world.

In his final letter to the shareholders of General Electric, Jack Welsh explained why they had been so successful.

Do you know what Jack Welch said was the most important reason for GE’s success?

  • Was it their scale?
  • Access to capital?
  • What about their progressive strategy?
  • Or the ability leverage their supply chains?
  • How many would vote for their innovation capability?

None of the above. It was that they never stopped learning. GE was the poster child for the ‘learning organisation’.

"The initiatives are playing a critical role in changing GE, but the most significant change in GE has been its transformation into a Learning Company. Our true "core competency" today is not manufacturing or services, but the global recruiting and nurturing of the world's best people and the cultivation in them of an insatiable desire to learn, to stretch and to do things better every day. By finding, challenging and rewarding these people, by freeing them from bureaucracy, by giving them all the resources they need—and by simply getting out of their way—we have seen them make us better and better every year."


It is a concept made famous by Peter Senge. If you haven’t read The Fifth Discipline, please do it.

But surprisingly there are remarkably few companies who strive to be learning organisations and consequently the case studies are far and few between. To be perfectly honest, I am quite saddened and despondent by the state of affairs.

When you think about it for even a moment, you realise how obvious the truth is. The greatest CEO of our generation declares it the critical ingredient to success. I write about those themes here every week – and live and work in this space for the last 8 years of my life. (I thought it was a no-brainer as far as consulting niches go: find the ONE thing that all organisations need, is obvious and logical and is endorsed by the most credible leaders of our time. I was wrong.)

But I will eat my proverbial hat if even ONE retailer (current or past clients excepted) reading this can come out to say that they have studied what it means to be a learning organisation and they are formally and purposefully striving to be one.

As much as growth, innovation, change, et al are part of the corporate-speak; is it really embedded in the DNA of the organisation?

How honestly you can answer that question will determine if you are around a decade from now.