Some Things Never Change, and GM Is One of Them: Doron Levin

1 Bloomberg Columnists

The writers continue to pile on GM. I know Doron Levin has been covering the auto industry in Detroit for a long time.

Some highlights:

The pre-holiday bombshell dropped Nov. 21 by Rick Wagoner, General Motors Corp. chief executive, has an all-too-familiar ring to longtime GM watchers.

Like earlier pronouncements by GM CEOs of massive cutbacks and firings, tempered with vows to make U.S. automaking operations efficient once and for all, the latest one probably won't do the trick.

“Napoleon is still retreating from Moscow,” said Jim Womack, president of the Lean Enterprise Institute, a non-profit research organization based in Brookline, Massachusetts. “Where will he hold the line?”


If all this seems like a recurring nightmare, it is: GM has traveled this road before.

Cutback Deja Vu

On Dec. 18, 1991, GM Chief Executives Bob Stempel said he would cut 74,000 GM jobs and shut 21 plants in North America. Scarcely five years earlier, his predecessor, Roger Smith, did roughly the same, also in response to flagging sales and excess plant capacity.

What's the old line about “insanity” being defined as doing the same things and expecting different results? I'll repeat it again, as Tom Peters says, you can't shrink your way to greatness!

Please check out my main blog page at

The RSS feed content you are reading is copyrighted by the author, Mark Graban.

, , , on the author's copyright.

What do you think? Please scroll down (or click) to post a comment. Or please share the post with your thoughts on LinkedIn – and follow me or connect with me there.

Did you like this post? Make sure you don't miss a post or podcast — Subscribe to get notified about posts via email daily or weekly.

Check out my latest book, The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation:

Get New Posts Sent To You

Select list(s):
Previous articleEncounters with Peter Drucker
Next articleHome Depot’s CEO and Gemba Walks
Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


  1. And when will the Big 3 take responsibility for their situation?

    Wagoner, Bill Ford, and their predecessors over the decades sound like victims: it’s pension costs, it’s healthcare, it’s exchange rates, it’s unfair subsidies by foreign governments, it’s the unions.

    Bill Ford’s current strategy is to ask for more government handouts (see ).

    I’m afraid they just don’t get it. And they may just have to “hit bottom” before they’re forced to take responsibility and action.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.