Who’s in charge at the world’s largest clinical equipment service provider? According to Dale Jones, the President and CEO of GE Clinical Services, Inc., the nationwide ISO takes its orders from a fusion of customers, GE CIS employees and the community at large. Perhaps. But maybe Jones has a lot to do with the company’s success, too. With a little Herbie Hancock mixed in.

f03a.jpg (11578 bytes)It is often said that General Electric’s largest product is managers. The company sends its recruiters to business schools throughout the world, and from each year’s graduating class, selects talented individuals and invites them to sign up with “The General.” That’s when the training really begins.

GE rotates young executives through different posts, molding them to fit GE’s culture, to be sure, with all its arcane jargon — Elfun for “Electrical Funds” (an independent investment program created in the early 1900s that spawned community service efforts that exist today) or the ubiquitous “Six Sigma” (a quality improvement program that GE people can’t go 10 minutes without mentioning!) GE’s tasting process also gives quick learners a crash course in business connoisseurship. In this cellar, executive prospects can age like a fine cabernet.

As much as this rigor is a strength for GE, it can be a source of frustration to customers and colleagues in a focused, “we both took the same IV pump class” industry like ours. Who are these GE people? For example, who is Dale Jones, the man who leads GE’s nationwide healthcare technology services operation, Clinical Services Inc. (CSI)?

Jones was in a hotel room when we phoned him. That’s where he takes a lot of his calls. He spends most of his time on the road these days, listening to his salespeople, his managers, his technicians, always listening to his customers, listening for anything that will help him catch the unifying motif amid the vivid and sometimes cacophonous solos played in biomed jazz.

How long you have been with GE?
I started in 1998 with GE Electrical Distribution and Controls which is now GE Industrial Systems. Over that tenure, I also worked at GE Aircraft Engines.

Is that typical of GE managers?
Yes. I started in a program that rotates you through four functional assignments and two businesses over a two-year period of time. You really got a chance to see different aspects of the business, and also the opportunity to see a total different business. You saw first hand how translatable ideas are from one industry to the next.

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