One of the most well-known examples of succession planning and talent management is the process used by General Electric (GE) to identify a successor for Jack Welch, GE’s most successful chief executive officer (CEO). During Welch’s 20 years as CEO, he was responsible for implementing many innovative processes at GE. He also eliminated waste through Six Sigma strategies and motivated all levels of employees to contribute to the company’s growth. Clearly, Welch would be a difficult leader to replace.
To ease the CEO transition process, GE began planning for Welch’s retirement in 1994, although he had not planned to retire until 2001. Unlike many CEOs, Welch wanted to be actively involved in the succession process and was a major advocate in implementing strategies that would aid in successfully planning for the company’s future. To begin the succession process, the company assembled a talented group of GE leaders. Accompanying Welch were GE’s vice presidents, human resources executives, and executive development representatives. After analysis of key talent, they identified three internal candidates suitable for the job: Jeff Immelt, president and CEO of GE Medical Systems; Robert L. Nardelli, president and CEO of GE Power Systems; and W. James McNerney, CEO of GE Aircraft Engines. Immelt, Nardelli, and McNerney were thought to have the essential skills and competencies that made up the ideal CEO for GE.
In 2000, after 6 years of careful deliberation, development, and grooming of the candidates, GE selected Immelt as Welch’s successor. Welch commented on the succession, saying that he was pleased with GE’s decision on Immelt, but that any of the three candidates would have made excellent CEOs. This sentiment was proven correct when Nardelli became CEO of Home Depot, and McNerney became CEO of 3M.
In this Discussion, further consider GE’s succession planning process, as well as broader concepts in talent management and succession planning. Compare the succession planning processes of GE, IBM, Apple, and HP. To begin this week’s Discussion, first review the difference between talent management and succession planning as outlined on page 13 of the course text Effective Succession Planning. Then review the article titled “IBM, Apple, HP: Stark Contrasts in CEO Succession,” found in this week’s Learning Resources, to examine the succession planning approaches taken by three major companies: IBM, Apple, and Hewlett-Packard. Finally, conduct additional research using the Walden Library and credible online sources, such as electronic journals, magazines, newspapers, and press releases, to explore additional information about the Jack Welch succession at GE as well as the other three companies listed above in addressing the Discussion Questions.
Post by Day 3 a cohesive and scholarly response based on your readings and research this week that addresses the following:
- Assess the impact that talent management and succession planning systems have on an organization’s sustainable competitive advantage.
- Create your own definition for the terms talent management and succession planning.
- Can succession planning exist without a talent management component?
- What is more vital to an organization’s sustainable competitive advantage—an effective system of talent management, or an effective system of succession planning?
- Is it possible for organizations to keep a competitive advantage without the use of talent management? What about without the use of succession planning?
- If you were an HR professional for an organization, what would be the relative emphasis you would place on each of these systems? Why or why not?
- If an organization has neither in place, how could you start?