2017 Edison Awards Achievement Honoree, Jeffrey R. Immelt is Chairman of the board and Chief Executive Officer of General Electric. 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-Houston Electric Company created General Electric Company.
Immelt says, “We may be a century-old company, but we need to move quickly, take risks, fail fast behave like a startup to keep winning.”
Edison himself said, “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”
One example of those risks that Immelt refers to is the decision to create GE Digital, located in California, in 2011. The company now has 1,400 people whose “marching orders are to try to adapt the digital wizardry and hurry-up habits of Silicon Valley to GE’s world of industrial manufacturing.”
Of this new direction, Immelt says, “G.E.’s success or failure over the next decade depends on this transformation, which he calls “probably the most important thing I’ve worked on in my career.”
Immelt brought in Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup, to work with company management on moving in new directions. Immelt says, “We encourage people to try things, pivot, try them again. It’s a better way to run the place than centralized command and control, process-laden.”