Thursday, December 3, 2009

Big Changes at GM?

With the departure of Fritz Henderson, GM's board is talking as if they are taking the opportunity to kick the changes at the company into high gear. Making changes at an organization as large and complex as GM is not going to be easy. It can be done, though, with a well-focused and aggressive plan.

In my opinion, the plan to get GM on track needs to include the following:
  • Forget about being the number one producer of automobiles. This kind of focus can take the company away from its purpose of making cars that people want to buy. I believe that Toyota temporarily lost its focus in its drive to be number one and it got them into trouble. Make great cars and the numbers will take care of themselves.
  • Improve the - real and perceived - quality of products offered. This is done by working on processes and products; not advertising.
  • Improve relations with dealers and the UAW. The company cannot get better without everyone working together. The level of trust between management, workers, and dealers has been poor for many years, and it's up to GM management to take the responsibility to get it fixed.
  • Increase innovation. The company needs to begin taking chances and develop more innovative designs and features into its cars. It's time for GM to stand out because of its products instead of its problems.
The biggest barrier the company has to address is its own culture. In general, the longer a company exists and the bigger it becomes, the more risk averse the culture becomes. It is a great time, though, for GM to refocus and reinvent itself, and I'll be watching with interest as the saga continues to unfold.

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