Fewer Meetings at GE and the CEO's Reaction to the Dow


A Wall Street Journal article describes an interview with GE CEO John Flannery. GE was recently dropped from the Dow Jones Industrial Average (also called the "DJIA" or "the Dow"), an index of 30 companies on the New York Stock Exchange that, taken together, serve as a indication of the U.S. economy. Asked about the move, Flannery downplayed the impact on GE:

WSJ: How about the more recent news of being removed from the Dow Jones Industrial Average? Does it mean GE has changed or is it the Dow that has changed?

Mr. Flannery: Yeah, there’s a lot of debate about that. Listen, you know being a member of the Dow is a big part of the company’s history, and I sent a note out to our teams just as that came out.

It is part of our history. It’s not going to be what defines us today or in the future. We’re going to define ourselves in the future. The teams and how we perform and how we deal with customers, how we invest in the things we do right now. That’s what writes the story for GE. The people inside the company are the people who define GE, not the people outside the company. So I’d say if anything, I certainly took it as a motivation.

During another part of the interview, Flannery discussed the company's goal of reducing meetings: "Little or no meetings wherever possible." The goal is part of a broader strategy for decentralization, moving the "center of gravity" to diverse business units.

Image source.


  • How do you assess Flannery's response to the question about the Dow? It's a delicate situation.
  • What, if any, leadership character dimensions did he demonstrate in responding to the question? 
  • What is the value of decentralization? What is the value of having fewer meetings? Also consider the downsides: what could be lost when fewer meetings are held?