Lights Out by Thomas Gryta & Ted Mann [7/10]

During my business career, a kind-of role model was Jack Welch, who took the mammoth electricity equipment manufacturer General Electric into far flung fields, seemingly with impeccable judgment, while instilling a ruthless, rational business culture that never failed. How I failed to spot the turnaround I do not know, but “Lights Out: Pride, Delusion, and the Fall of General Electric” is a brilliant journalistic expose of GE’s plunge in value in the hands of Welch’s successor, the sales-oriented Jeff Immelt. The authors unerringly commence with the dilemmas faced by Immelt’s hapless replacement, John Flannery, the man charged with revealing GE’s predicament to the markets, with horrifying value effect. Then the account backtracks to the glory days of Welch, before forensically and vividly cataloguing Immelt’s flailing mistakes. The writing is slick, the many anecdotes beef up the tale, and the plot is unfolded with surehanded expertise. A revealing and entertaining corporate fable, Lights Out should be read by enterprising business managers from any industry.

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