By Kevin Meyer
I had planned on penning this post about GM's CEO Fritz Henderson a couple days ago when I first read his interview in the Detroit Free Press. Then of course today he had to suddenly up and resign. Although we had taken him to task a while back, I was going to pay him and even GM some compliments… well, perhaps not quite.
Let's start with some quotes from the article.
He says he’s focused on instilling a new corporate culture built around customers and vehicles; accountability; speed; and risk-taking. Success is crucially important, experts say, because GM’s culture must foster innovation and quickness in order to compete.
Yes, although that's been said before. Does it include incentives and rebates?
He added: "Having our daily time spent around products and customers
is the foundation of the culture change. It's about having everybody
how important cultural change is to the new GM, GM's board of directors
now receives a monthly update on progress in that area, Oster said.
Great… another report. A good director might have gone to the gemba to see for herself.
GM executives and employees point to evidence of a changing culture:
fewer meetings, quicker decision-making and greater emphasis on taking
responsibility for fixing problems.There's
also a new, more liberal dress code as well as a new employee
performance evaluation system that aims to line up employee goals with
developing GM's new culture.
Good… we all like fewer meetings and I personally like wearing sneakers to work. For whatever it's worth.
GM has identified workers throughout the company, whom it is calling
"Pride Builders," to brainstorm new ideas and encourage others to
Ok now we're getting into the hokey stuff. I wonder if those Pride Builders get picked on by the other schoolkids?
Some raise concerns that Henderson, a 25-year employee of GM himself,
is surrounded by other longtime GM executives, which makes cultural
change even more difficult.
Well Fritz just solved that problem, in an obtuse kind of way. Boy all those bailed out companies sure are having trouble keeping executives. I'm sure it's not the salary caps. Bite my tongue!
But here's my real issue… among all the glorious comments in the primary and secondary articles, not once did he mention employee and knowledge development. Training, kaizen, even the oft-ubiquitous people are our primary asset stuff. Sure they get to dress down and a chosen few become Pride Builders, but what about tapping the brainpower of the many? All those years of experience, bottled up creativity presumably stifled in the past and now raring to come out? The impact if that experience and creativity was augmented by training on lean concepts?
Guys in jeans are one thing. Guys in jeans leveraging their knowledge are a competitive gamechanger – the one GM needs now if it's going to save my investment.