GM & Delphi to Lose 40k Brains


    Buyouts may top 40,000 – 06/24/06 – The Detroit News Online

    Wall Street will celebrate, but GM and Delphi are about to lose the experience and problem solving ability of 40,000 people. Well, wait a minute, was GM getting the most of out of those brains anyway? Or, had employeeschecked their brains at the door at management's request? Hopefully, they can pick their brains up on their way to retirement or their next jobs.

    It's amazing to me that Toyota considers employees to be a great strength and something to develop, for the good of the company and the employee, while GM sees employees as a cost. How sad. What waste.

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    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. You make a very important point. Not all brains are equal, and sometimes its the combination of person and company that just needs a change. How many people that spent 20-30 years in the GM / Delphi system are still highly engaged change agents moving the company forward? Probably only a handful. Although the disengagement is a product of the company and environment, if you want to move forward, sometimes you have to make a break?

      Of course, these companies also just plain old have too many people. To survive, they need less. Demand is x and they have 1.4x people (or whatever the right ratio of waste is).

    2. True, GM has to get capacity down to sales (it’s easier than increasing sales, unfortunately). I guess my point is that it’s a shame that it got to this point and that others can make sure that their employees aren’t wasted resources. Had GM gotten better use out of people’s brains, they might not be in this mess today. But, instead, arrogant GM management (at all levels) had the answers and expected employees to “just do it” (no thinking!). The Frederick Taylor model is losing to the Toyota model.

    3. So here is the real question – forget GM and Delphi, what can we (collectively) do with 40,000 people who are well trained and fed up with the status quo?

      There is no question that many of these folks have both trained and learned skills, even if they aren’t helping their current employer. Wilber Ross wants to collect the pieces of the supply community and build a multi-billion dollar Tier 1. He might use some of them.

      So who wants to form a new company?

    4. I’d take the subset with good skills but then would also want the sub-set of those who haven’t been “ruined” by the GM system. Look at what happened with NUMMI…. Toyota had to be pretty selective, but they found good employees who could proper in the TPS system. I would do like Southwest Airlines does (or did) and “hire for attitude”, assuming you train people on the rest.

    5. The number is 35k according to today’s WSJ.

      “The buyouts pose a challenge because some plants may be left short-handed. GM said it will use temporary employees as necessary.”

      Great, do you want a car built by temporary workers?


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