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!

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1 Comment
  1. Mark Edmondson, Lean Affiliates says

    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.

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