Concept: The 4-E and 1-P framework.
Book: Winning.
Author: Jack Welch
Category: Organizational Design, Strategy & Management, Human Resources, Entrepreneurship.
Rating of the concept: 8/10

Concept: The 4-E and 1-P framework.
Jack Welch was one of the leading managers of the 20th Century. He was Chairman and CEO of General Electric between 1981 and 2001. During his tenure at GE, the company’s value rose 4000%. In 2005, at the age of 70, he wrote Winning, an inspiring synthesis of lessons this inspiring management Godfather learned during his career. For hiring brilliant new team members, Welch proposes the 4 Es and 1 P framework:

  • Positive Energy: these people don’t complain about working hard, they love to work and also to play. People with positive energy just love life.
  • The ability to Energize others: People who energize can inspire their team to take on the impossible-and enjoy the hell out of doing it.
  • Edge: the courage to take tough yes-or-no decisions. Effective people know when to stop assessing and make a tough call, even without total information.
  • Execute: the ability to get the job done. This skill is a distinct skill from Edge. It means a person knows how to put decisions into action and push them forward to completion, through resistance, chaos, or unexpected obstacles. People who can execute know that winning is about results.
  • If the candidate has the four Es, then you look for that final P-Passion: People with Passsion love to learn and grow, and they get a huge kick when people around them do the same. They’re not only passionate about work, they have just juice for life in their veins.

Before assessing for the 4 Es and Passion, Welch proposes ‘The Acid Test’ probing for integrity, intelligence and maturity.

BooksinBusiness comment on The 4-E and 1-P framework.
During an entrepreneurial game, I launched the same question that Jack Welch once received during a convention: “What is the one thing you would ask in an interview to help you decide whom to hire?” Just like Jack Welch during his convention, other entrepreneurs around the table were floored. One of the participants got up with one interesting question to ask a candidate: “Why should our company hire you?”. To me this is a brilliant question to probe for the 4 E’s and Passion. It’s funny how this ‘Why-question’ shows up once more (Read Whatever you do, start with why? (biologically explained)).

What’s interesting in Welch’s approach is the non-quantitative aspect of his criteria. For example, energy and passion are difficult to measure; it’s a feeling that grasps you during an interview. However, qualitative criteria do not always mean ‘effective criteria’; it’s intriguing for example how much money organizations sometimes spend on hiring and assessing people just to choose someone based on non-rational criteria in the end (e.g. somebody they knew already or someone who is really attractive).

I consider hiring new people as one of the toughest challenges in business. As I already wrote in a previous blog on “The Flywheel” (Jim Collins, From Good to Great), I strongly believe that the success of any project is largely determined by putting in place the right team. But how can we realize this? What framework do we need to use? How can we assess in an objective and non-biased way?
I definitely consider Jack Welch’s 4 Es and 1 P framework as a helpful qualitative hiring-tool. In combination with this qualitative approach, I had some good experiences with external HR support to obtain more quantitative and objective external feedback: e.g. personality and leadership style assessment, MBTI, etc. Tips from entrepreneurs like David Cummings can be helpful as well.

 The model of Welch is timeless to me. In this recent video, watch how Jack Welch talks in his inspiring pragmatic style about the importance of authenticity in a changed professional environment, illustrating how a lot of his lessons seem timeless.

BooksinBusiness take-away:
Who to hire? Look for positive Energy, ability to Energize, Edge, Executional power and Passion.