3.31.2009

CEO Obama

So, the White House asked Rick Wagoner to step aside. O.k., fine. Probably needed to happen, right? Here is a link to William Holstein's op-ed contribution on this matter, published in the 3/30/09 edition of the NY Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/31/opinion/31holstein.html?_r=1

I agree with Holstein on one issue: President Obama made this move for political expediency. Has Obama run a company? Does he know what this looks like to the rest of us out here? Is he really this detached from what is happening in the genba? Of course the answer is, yes! He spends no time in genba but in a conference room trying to solve problems! Oh, populist politics, you are so comforting and irresistible!

I confess, you are right. None of my rhetoric is the point here. Well, here it is: overall, Holstein completely misses the point. TENS of BILLIONS of OUR hard earned money (well, actually an IOU to ourselves and the Chinese) have been thrown at GM and the end result is probably going to be bankruptcy anyway! This fate is due GM, despite matching Toyota in quality and narrowing the cost gap. We must admit - GM is a big money sucking machine and it MUST shed amounts of overhead that will make this country shudder. Would we NOT do the same thing in our own household if facing foreclosure? I think I would at least try.

GM IS too big for the current market situation. But it MUST fail in order for something that emerges to be competitive in the future. Despite its past successes (the first electric car [EVO, remember that? ] ! ) and next year the Chevy Volt will be the first extended range ELECTRIC (not hybrid) car to hit the market. Some people will buy it. Does Toyota have one of these? Nope. And we don't see Toyota in front of Congress? What is happening here?

It is time to stop the finger pointing and blame game, but nobody would know this if you watch TV, listen to the radio or read the garbage in our newspapers.

Nope, none of us would know this watching the "critical thinking" in the media, but we all know in our gut that GM should have been facing bankruptcy back in the fall of 2008, and the taxpayers' money could have been used more wisely - that is - keep the company afloat while new PRIVATE concerns figure out what to do with it, with THEIR money, not mine and yours. Now, it looks like we may be stuck with this mess for twice the amount that we involuntarily signed up for.

Yes, Wagoner is 15 years too late on his restructuring. If you have read Factory Man, by Jim Harbour, you get a sense of the chronology that has led up to the current GM and Chrysler mess. But Wagoner didn't cause ANY of this on his own. One person can't stop the inertia behind decades of successes and failures. All of us in industry KNOW that inertia is as an axiom that one person cannot overcome alone. Yet we all asked Wagoner to do this. And now we honestly think that Congress can do it with a few words from the teleprompter and legislation that costs us more money than we can afford. Change as most of us have experienced, doesn't match even .001% of the furious change that GM MUST face in the coming year. Yet, we rejoice in the public blame of one man. The finger pointing continues, when it really needs to stop so GM can face their problems head on. Unfortunately for the employees of GM, the next "burning platform" they will be asked to tackle will be under the smothering blanket of bankruptcy.

Most laughable out of all this and Holstein probably missed another matter before press time: according to the intermin GM CEO, Barack Obama, the Government is going to guarantee warranty on GM vehicles? Ha! Has anyone seen what the most efficient operation the government is operating has been up to lately: the U.S. Postal Service? This is getting more entertaining by the day!

Am I a Big Three apologist? No. Far from it. If GM fails, well, o.k. then, they fail. We will cross that bridge when we get to it, but know that it is coming and we need to plan for the worst case scenario. In lean, we talk a lot about people embracing problems and not sweeping them under the rug. Once we are there, failure is something that any American can muster up courage to face.

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