In one of our June workshops a participant brought the most recent GE Form 10-K into the group’s discussions. GE has dramatically redesigned their Form 10-K to be a communication focused document.
If it weren’t for the cover page, most SEC reporting professionals would not even recognize this filing as a 10-K. Right after the cover page is a picture of a GE worker and this is followed by an executive summary. It looks like an annual report to shareholders at first, but no, it is the ACTUAL FORM 10-K! It even has colors!
The document is organized differently to tell GE’s story in a meaningful and engaging way. When you think Form 10-K you usually think of a lock-step structure of Parts and Items, and this structure does not appear at all in this narrative document. GE has used General Instruction C.1. in a very innovative way. This instruction says:
- Preparation of Report.
- (1) This form is not to be used as a blank form to be filled in, but only as a guide in the preparation of the report on paper meeting the requirements of Rule 12b-12. Except as provided in General Instruction G, the answers to the items shall be prepared in the manner specified in Rule 12b-13.
GE completely redesigned the structure and the flow. GE did not follow the lock-step format of the Form 10-K Parts and Items. Instead they reorganized the content into a logical structure and flow. In addition, you will see a variety of font sizes and headings, pictures, graphics and other tools to make information easier to follow and understand. (All of course looking back to the concepts of Plain English.)
When we here at the blog first read the document we wondered how it could even be grounded in the Form 10-K instructions, but check out page 231. Here is the linkage to the instructions. In the order of the Parts and Items in the Form 10-K instructions GE cross references to where the required disclosures are in their new 10-K.
The investment in improvement and change in this document is, well, WOW!
You can find the 10-K at:
As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome and appreciated!