Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Even the big companies can get it right.

Andrew Ward, FT May 30.":
"One evening last October, an empty freight trailer was stolen from a truck park in Stockholm, Sweden, and driven north towards the border with Finland. Within two days, the vehicle was in Vyborg, Russia, more than 1,000 miles away.
...By the time the theft was reported, the trailer was in Russia. But TIP was able to use the tracking device to guide Russian police to the freight yard where the vehicle was parked. Within hours, the trailer was recovered and the thieves arrested.
... TIP is the European trailer-leasing business of General Electric. Many of its vehicles, including the one in Stockholm, are fitted with a satellite tracking system, developed by GE's equipment services division.

GE continues to change and seems to be getting it right. In addition to heavily investing in "green" initiatives, Jeff Immelt is changing the corporate culture. The basic insights of the GME seem to be consistent with his decisions.
More from Mr. Ward's article..
GE's lead in such a promising but unproved market is a symbol of how the group has become more innovative and daring since Jeff Immelt replaced Jack Welch as chief executive nearly five years ago. During Mr Welch's 20-year reign, GE was famous for its laser-like focus on growth and ruthless intolerance of failing managers. The approach made GE one of the most disciplined and reliable performers in corporate America. But critics believe it also spread a fear of failure that stifled risk-taking.

Mr Immelt has sought to inject a more adventurous spirit by increasing investment in research and development and linking management bonuses to innovation. Shortly after taking charge, he challenged senior executives to generate three new business ideas a year, each with the potential to deliver at least $100m (£54m) in annual revenues. VeriWise, developed entirely by GE scientists at the group's main R&D centre in Niskayuna, New York, provides some of the clearest evidence to date that Mr Immelt's cultural revolution is bearing fruit.

"It is an example of the imagination breakthroughs happening across GE," says Thomas Konditi, president of asset intelligence for GE Equipment Services. "In the past, going into a new technology such as this would have been seen as risky. People would have said, 'Let's not take too big a swing.' But we have proved that we can be a leader rather than a follower in innovation and we can move fast."

They had the customer relationship, gave their top people an incentive to think about what the customer needed, invented a solution that played to GE's core strength both in technology and relationships, and implemented a solution that increases transparency,accountability and takes friction out of a logistic chain.

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