Monday, November 13, 2017
Not so many years ago, General Electric was a colossus striding the land. Its management techniques were imitated widely. Its former executives went on to run large companies. Now the corporation is struggling to survive, and it has lost $100 billion in market value. The downfall was relatively swift. After 2008, its financial arm was disassembled and largely sold off. It was the former engine of earnings outstripping the industrial arms of the business. Now, GE looks mortal, and there is speculation it might not survive as a conglomerate. If so, it will be an epic flameout equivalent to the demise of ITT decades ago. It is a reminder that there is no safety in size or in balance sheet. Market power can erode stealthily or of a sudden. A CEO needs a healthy paranoia and to remain on alert for trouble. Communications should retain a sense of humility and a clear recognition that what goes up can come down -- sometimes hard.