To Succeed in the Car Business, It Helps if You Care about Cars

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Source of book image: online version of the WSJ review quoted and cited below.

(p. B1) . . . , General Motors embarked on a series of initiatives to overcome both the perception and reality of the growing import threat. The 1950s and ’60s marked the decline of the “product guy” at GM and the ascendancy of “professional management,” often individuals with a strong financial background.

It’s not that senior GM management disliked cars. It was more an atmosphere of “benign neglect,” a generalized consensus that we were, after all, primarily in the business of making money, and cars were merely a transitory form of money: put a certain quantity in at the front end, transform it into vehicles, and sell them for more money at the other (p. B12) end. The company cared about “the other two ends”–minimizing cost and maximizing revenue–but assumed that customer desire for the product was a given.
Responsibility for creation of the right product was delegated to lower levels in the organization, often to people with little understanding of quality design or great driving characteristics. I maintain that without a passionate focus on great products from the top of the company on down, the “low cost” part will be assured but the “high revenue” part won’t happen, just as it didn’t at GM for so many years.

For the full excerpt, see:
Bob Lutz. “Japan’s Advantage and How the Cadillac Lost Its Shine.” The Wall Street Journal (Mon., JUNE 13, 2011): B1 & B12.
(Note: ellipsis added.)

The excerpt is excerpted from:
Lutz, Bob. Car Guys Vs. Bean Counters: The Battle for the Soul of American Business. New York: Portfolio, 2011.

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