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Communicating “An American Renewal”

CEOs and communicators have a partnership challenge in prying America out of this worst recession since the Great Depression. For each CEO, the responsibility is envisioning and executing a dramatic recovery strategy. For the communicator, it is ensuring that all critical stakeholders understand and support their responsibilities within the strategy.

GE CEO Jeff Immelt

GE CEO Jeff Immelt

GE’s CEO Jeff Immelt outlined his perspective on these responsibilities during a recent talk before the Detroit Economics Club entitled entitled “An American Renewal.”

Immelt said that dramatic changes must take place across all industries if America is to regain its economic footing and maintain global leadership.

To be successful, businesses must create “a clear and determined plan of action” that is reflected in the thinking, planning and execution of all business functions. ”Fundamental changes must occur…. This requires a new way of thinking,” he said.

Immelt’s approach ”requires a stiff dose of candor about the troubles we face… (and) it requires leaders throughout the economy to take command of events.” And this means that American industries must develop a renewed focus on technology and manufacturing.

“Many (business leaders) bought into the idea that America could go from a technology-based, export-oriented powerhouse to a services-led, consumption-based economy — and somehow still expect to prosper. That idea was flat wrong,” he declared.

To regain a solid footing and the build momentum, Immelt spelled out five strategic requirements, which are highlighted below (and detailed in the full speech available at this link, and video).

  1. “Increase investment in research and development.”
  2. “America should get busy addressing the two biggest global challenges — clean energy and affordable health care.”
  3. “We must make a serious commitment to manufacturing and exports.”
  4. “We should welcome the government as a catalyst for leadership and change.”
  5. “It is possible for a global business leader to also be a good citizen.”

“From economic chaos,” Immelt said, “we will create new opportunities for…  this country. We will be proud…. It is time to think big again. And time to make things again that work and last.”

1 comment to Communicating “An American Renewal”

  • The companies that will come out of today's crisis strong and prosperous will be the ones who seize the communications initiative, who engage audiences, who present a vision, who take responsibility. After the global corporate debacle, business-as-usual won't cut it–and that extends to communications. It's no coincidence that social media is exploding just as lack of trust in companies and governments reaches new highs. Leaders must join the conversation or find themselves and their institutions circumvented.

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