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Beth's comstock's story is mine in making. Albiet the impact may be a fraction of what she's accomplished in those 26yrs at GE.
She's brought out well the GE's magnificent and larger than life culture .
It's amazing on how Beth recounts people, experiences, interactions with them and her inner emotions so profoundly. It's difficult to imagine someone being able to do that for a 26 long years! (I don't even remember my last quarter!).
She's given summaries and mantra's after each story. That makes the self-help even better. It would have been even better if there was a way to recall the story behind those mantra's/learnings quickly . so one could share them as anecdotes when sharing with others.
But doesn't looks like Beth Comstock era is over. It feels she will come back with more power bringing more change.
Honest, vulnerable, hungry for change defines Beth to me.
Recommended this book to everyone who wants motivation to their change making missions.
Working and volunteering in organisations with such fixed and rigid structures this book gave me a wonderful case study for another way. Easy to read and enjoyable due to story telling I recommend this book if you wish to learn a path forward for change.
Beth Comstock told the story of her GE-life and explains convincingly how change and innovation work even in super-larger corporates. The five sections are about self-permission, discovery, agitated inquiries, storycraft and creating a new operating system. Every of the five sections closes with a “Challenges” and shares some work instructions in between.
“Change is a messy, collaborative, inspiring, difficult, and ongoing process – like everything meaningful that leads to human progress.” p.xxiv
Beth was a change maker all her GE career and told much of her development and different stations within the GE environment, what has worked and what has not, where she succeeded and where she failed. What I liked most were the passages of her lessons learned and generated experience in bringing innovation into the corporate outside in and from the edge. Some stories about when she brought in sparks from outside like Aaron Dignan or Eric Ries, or when they collaborated with startups like Quirky before GE started building their lean start up with “Fast Works”. I liked much what I ready about emergent leadership, the risk of premature scaling the power of the right timing.
“Most of us are adverse to conflict. But conflict is the primary engine of creativity and innovation.” P131
I had loved to read more insights on why and how they finally failed, when Jeff Immelt and Beth left GE. In return I could have waived on some of her detailed earlier career stories.
Candid, personal, and bombast-free, “Imagine it Forward” is a change-agent’s true story from the inner sanctums of a few of the world’s biggest pre-digital companies. And whether or not they admit it, all companies “of a certain age” are writhing as they sort out how to compete in this transformational era.
For a decade, Reality TV and social media have been dissolving the polished exteriors that hid the truths inside so many of our institutions, including our families. In “Imagine it Forward,” Beth (and you’ll want to call her Beth too) brings that new, sometimes uncomfortable, transparency to the inner workings of the Fortune 100 C-Suite.
The truth needed to be personal, because what is change in a 100-year-old company but individual intra-preneurs battling legions of executives in cultures built for yesterday? And these days, it’s a battle to the death. (See rest of business books) The bureaucrats have the incumbent’s advantages— wallet, Street, inertia, but all the entrepreneurs have is each other and The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. And sometimes the CEO’s support. (The value of which is greatly overestimated. As Martin Sorrell remarked; “You think I say something and my people do it?”)
If the change agents are gifted, like Beth, they have gobs of vision and grit and have grown a very thick skin. But that still doesn’t guarantee success. Business has faced challenging eras before—but not the likes of this one. Exponential accelerators in tech and globalization are rapidly converging. The Fortune 100 old-growth forest is being culled quarterly. As are the good jobs.
“Change Agents,” as Beth characterizes her people, are the only hope. They take constant arrows, front and back, and like Beth, have probably closed their doors and cried. For all those women and men struggling for change— often in isolation without role models, sufficient support or recognition— this book is a gold mine of advice and a triple espresso of encouragement. Read it and please, carry on!
“Imagine it Forward” is deceiving because it’s a good, enjoyable read, but it’s also the most powerful, instructive user’s manual on Change Management I’ve read--specifically because it’s so authentic. Changing established cultures is by necessity personal and conflict-ridden and it’s time to admit out loud.
Of course change agents should read this book— but really, so should the rest of the folks in legacy companies who wittingly or unwittingly create the punishing headwinds that make adapting too hard. Everyone needs to be a change agent or change advocate if our companies are going to thrive or even survive.
I hope this book encourages other practitioners to come forward with candid stories and advice. I hope journalists dig under the PR to the real challenges in these companies, and I hope everyone starts to appreciate the importance and difficulty, particularly around culture, that’s been silently holding back all the talent and imagination locked in many fine organizations.
It seems like everybody in New York, including me, knows Beth. She is active in social media, conferences, and has a seemingly limitless capacity to help almost everyone who asks her. Still, I was unaware of so many of her accomplishments and her personal challenges. I’m especially grateful for her rare confidence and her generosity. She let people see behind the curtain and acquire a bit more of their own confidence and thick skin—knowing that even the biggest and the best are also human.
One of the best business books I have ever read. Beth Comstock had a career at NBC and GE. But she was never content with the status quo. She was always looking for the sparks, the people who think outside the box, the new ways of thinking and doing things that give birth to the future. The book conveys many stories of her successes and failures and how she learned from both. She gives great summaries and thought questions at the end of each chapter. But ultimately it is a call to imagine it forward.
Beth Comstock proves to be the perfect guide through the daunting labyrinth of change-making and innovation, where discovery lies around each turn, everything is feedback, uncertainty is the norm and ‘No’ doesn’t mean no; it means ‘Not yet.’ An exceptionally well-paced book that integrates its own advice about telling a great story, Imagine it Forward demonstrates and distills the lessons of a truly storied career. It’s all here, from Comstock’s earliest days in a variety of increasingly responsible and innovative media PR roles, to GE’s harrowing days walking a tightrope of insolvency during the late, unlamented financial crisis, to her influential work as the principle architect of GE’s digital strategy. She explores the initiatives that have made it possible for a legacy industrial firm to navigate the alien landscape of 21st century technology, terrain which will not be the same tomorrow as it is today. The accomplishments are audacious and on a grand scale; Comstock pinpoints how the large themes translate into actionable tactics that anyone can implement to become a change-maker in their own sphere. Because at the end of the day, disruption and innovation happen at the individual level before they can happen at the corporate one. Recommended both as great career coaching and as a genuinely enjoyable read.