@Shanen: I wholeheartedly agree. GE exists only because of inertia. But I think Immelt's management style has changed "the General" a little bit.
I've also been exposed to GE and their management philosophy. Welch was/is clueless. His "management style" is crude at best. Especially his idea that a manager can be effective anywhere in the organization. (IOW once you know how to manage, you can manage anything.) When Welch was running his massive PR campaign prior to his retirement from GE, he made a big deal about his basic management principals like he was some kind of management guru. The blowback he got from several business people via the WSJ was immediate and critical. Especially his idea that every year you fire the bottom 10% of performers in every department. Those critics exposed all kinds of problems in Welch's ideas. Suddenly Welch was adding all sorts of "qualifications" and "clarifications" to defend and explain his principals.
Welch was lucky he came on the scene when he did. GE had just turned itself into a bank with their finance service. That service became the primary revenue generator for the company. So Welch looked good.
Speaking of which, here's a great example of that "manage anywhere/anything" idea. A guy whose claim to fame as a manager was installing a GPS on every locomotive was transferred to become director of marketing for one of the medical device operations. Seriously. Like there is no difference between an MRI machine and a locomotive. To top it off, this guy was arrogant and crude. He alienated so many customers it was like a dark comedy. While at a big sales show, he shouted after one customer after alienating them that they would be back because "we are GE." Classy. Real classy. This guy never should have been a manager in the first place.
I am still in contact with previous coworkers so I hear about what is going on inside at least one of the GE divisions on a regular basis.
Shanen has it right.