Chrysler CEO Robert Nardelli is on a mission to change Chrysler’s culture.
Over the decades when Detroit’s Big Three dominated the nation’s auto market, Chrysler, General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. often put their own priorities, like keeping their plants running
at full capacity, ahead of satisfying customers. Now, Mr. Nardelli is
trying to replace those old habits with some of the no-nonsense
management principles that have fueled the success of General Electric Co., one of his former employers.
What are those principles?
300 executives at Chrysler are expected to turn off their BlackBerrys
and begin three days of in-house management seminars aimed at putting
customers first in all of Chrysler’s operations. Mr. Nardelli himself
is scheduled to lead a session on the corporate culture of a
Mr. Nardelli had dozens of top Chrysler executives read "The Ice Cream
Maker," a book by quality consultant Subir Chowdhury. He also named a
chief customer officer.
It’s all about the customer, right? Those of us in the lean manufacturing world have known that all along. But wait a minute… is this really the same Mr. Nardelli that had a less than stellar tenure at Home Depot thanks to alienating customers?
The company [Home Depot] started hiring more part-timers and added a salary cap
that drove off the more seasoned workers. The retailer also moved about
40% of workers to overnight stocking positions, ostensibly to clear the
aisles of clutter. But it left customers searching in vain for someone
in an orange apron to ask about picking out the proper power tool….
Before long, the company had a morale problem. Instead of waiting
eagerly on customers, workers too often would be found huddling in an
aisle griping about management.
I guess I better get a copy of that ice cream book. It must really be something.