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What is GE Workout?

Explore the concept of the GE Workout, a proven process that empowers employees to create meaningful, vision-centered, and engaging work. Learn about the importance of reducing burdensome and ineffective processes in organizations, which can lead to increased employee engagement and fulfillment. You’ll also gain a deeper understanding of the benefits of democratizing decision-making and empowering employees to actively shape solutions.

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Helpful Reading

Helpful Reading

"The GE Work-Out" by Dave Ulrich, Steve Kerr, and Ron Ashkenas

This book introduces the GE Work-Out process, offering insights into how it empowers employees and transforms organizations. It's directly relevant to the podcast's theme of streamlining processes and enhancing employee engagement.

"Change the Culture, Change the Game" by Roger Connors and Tom Smith

Explores the impact of organizational culture on performance. This aligns with the podcast's discussion on democratizing decision-making and cultivating a culture of engagement and efficiency.

"Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us" by Daniel H. Pink

Daniel Pink's examination of motivation is crucial for understanding employee engagement, a key topic in the podcast. It delves into what truly drives people to perform at their best.

"Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don't" by Jim Collins

Jim Collins' analysis of how companies achieve greatness is relevant for listeners interested in transforming their organizations, a core aspect of the GE Workout concept.

"The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization" by Peter M. Senge

Senge's work on learning organizations complements the podcast's focus on continuous improvement and employee empowerment, key elements of the GE Workout process.

Helpful Reading


When it comes to work, there's the plumbing - the stuff we absolutely have to do. There's the shuffle, or the busy work we find ourselves dong. There's also strategic work that saddles on top of all the other work. Finally, there's highly engaging work that often takes a back seat (or is separate from) all the other work we do. Engaging work is the kind of work that taps into your unique talents, gifts, and potential. It is work that allows you to grow and feel a sense of enrichment when you're at work. In order to increase engagement, we need to create space, and that's what GE Workout is all about.

The GE Workout is a proven process that empowers employees to create meaningful, vision-centered, and engaging work by reducing burdensome, wasteful, and ineffective processes that we often inherit. The GE Workout process involves a series of structured meetings and discussions that bring together employees from different levels and departments of the organization. The goal is to identify and eliminate wasteful activities and processes that do not add value to the organization's mission and vision. Just as important, Workout gives employees the opportunity to take ownership of their work and make positive changes that align with the Aitkin's vision. This approach empowers employees to develop new skills and ideas, which leads to a sense of fulfillment and engagement with their work. The GE Workout process also helps to reduce stress by eliminating unnecessary workloads and streamlining processes.

The reason I love this process is that I've seen it satisfy some of the most common hopes employees have, such as feeling heard and valued, having a voice in decision-making, and being part of a positive and supportive team. Additionally, it addresses some of the fears employees have when it comes to change, such as ambiguity, job insecurity, and feeling overwhelmed.

Just try to imagine an environment where all meetings result in real, actionable solutions, where voices from all levels contribute to impactful decisions. This is the realm of the GE Workout, conceptualized in the bustling corridors of General Electric in the 1980s. Under Jack Welch's leadership, GE sought to dismantle bureaucratic inertia and turbocharge decision-making.

Basically, GE Workout is a high-energy, problem-solving session that can last anywhere from two hours to two days, but at the end of that session you leave with employee led, collective brainstorming, swift decision-making, and an actionable plan to break down the silos that hinder organizational progress.

Let's dive into some real-world applications, specifically in the context of county government, to see the Workout in action.

First, consider the often-tedious permitting process for construction, business operations, or special events. It's like a maze, with each turn revealing another layer of red tape. Through a GE Workout session, a diverse group – planners, administrators, and citizens – collaboratively streamline this process. The result? A permitting procedure that’s more efficient, transparent, and user-friendly, significantly reducing wait times and frustration.

Next, let's turn our lens to public health services. Imagine trying to optimize an immunization program or a public health education campaign. The challenge is to ensure these vital services reach as many people as possible, efficiently. In a Workout setting, health professionals, community leaders, and residents collaborate to identify bottlenecks and devise innovative outreach strategies. This could mean a revamped scheduling system for immunizations or more targeted, community-specific health education campaigns.

Lastly, the realm of social services – food assistance, housing support, or child welfare programs. These services are lifelines for many, yet often mired in procedural complexities. In a Workout session, service providers, beneficiaries, and administrative staff dissect the existing system. They work together to refine application processes, enhance case management, and streamline service delivery. The outcome? Social services that are more accessible, efficient, and tailored to the real needs of the community.

The GE Workout is a transformative tool, because it shifts mindsets from "that's how it's always been done" to "how can we do this better?" It democratizes decision-making, empowering those at the front lines to actively shape solutions.

At the end of the day, Workout is a  powerful tool that can help us achieve our goals of reducing stress, increasing engagement and fulfillment, empowering innovation and improvement, reducing burdens, and making work easier and more enjoyable. Thank you for tuning in. Remember, innovation is not just a concept, it's an action, and we're all in it together.

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