Wednesday, June 10, 2009
THE demise of GM had been expected for so long that when it finally died there was barely a whimper. Wall Street was unmoved. Congress did not draw breath. America shrugged. Yet the indifference with which the news was received should not obscure its importance. A company which once sold half the cars in America, employed in its various guises as many people as the combined populations of Nevada and Delaware and was regarded as a model for managers all over the world has just gone under; and its collapse holds important lessons about management, about government and about the future of the car industry.
"Managing Culture is our main Business" was said by the most famous 1990s American Manager who penned "Who Say Elephants Cant Dance" ? For starters he saved an American icon which is curently OnDemand. Now they are Thinking of a Smarter Planet. Not only did Big Blue change the rules of business engagement, they exited some head ache loss making businesses. Even those which were core to their identity like the PC and other hardware business.
Today more than a third of their business profitability comes from Software business and their over all business sweetly rewamped in a portfolio of annuity business. Now that was transformational.
Apple shrugged the looming online music piracy bane and converted into a billon dollar rainmaking cash cow ! the apple story is outstanding in context as Apple II is all about music sales as much as it is about computers. And guess what the Computer in Apple Computer got dropped last year. The Personal Computers from the IBM PC got sold to lenovo.
May be GM should let go sales of cars with its badge and focus as a contract manufacturer , Supply chain management company globalised in operations and service hub fueling next generation cars with bio fuels and brainy rechargable batteries. That'll create more jobs and avoid the legendary plants at Detroit and Delaware from being shut !
Now that a huge ego issue for America .isnt it ? Thats is a cultural issue in as much as it is a ego hassle. So we expect a lot from the "New Government Motors"
For several decades or so it seems that GM was a victim of the industrial megalomania and corporate nar⋅cis⋅sism that self consumed the gaint with inefficient , gas guzzling , American ego fueling , SUV's ( Super Useless Vehicles). When the nimble footed japanese and quality focused germans and super fast Koreans hit the fast lane , they not only came up with smart cars but lean ones too , mean performance, quality and value for money and light on pocket & light on environment four wheelers!
When times changed the GM think tanks also tried to shrugg of the SUV mistep. But the GM culture was deep and cancerous. Now lean and mean with half its original line up , they are better positioned to adopt Kaizen principles ! Look for Blue Oceans and Compete into the future.
With Hummer going going gone under the hammer and saturn, saab and pontiac eclipsed the new GM can drive with green Cadillac, Chevy,Buick and GMC mostly on Indian and Chinese roads more than at Mountain View.
Art of unlearning the Alfred Sloan legacy will be tough. What got GM here wont get New GM there ! Chevy Volte is a spec of possibility on a road long captured by Toyota's Prius and other hybrids.They need to take a leaf from guys at www.betterplace.com as the world needs a betterplace.
Recreating a industry model like the thought behind "betterplace" can be a market making endevour. An Ode to Ford and study of the beasts from the east like
Tata's "nano" is still very much plausible !
But then culture vultures needs to be in sync with the necciated dictats of what the individual customer can afford in these times of recession and future fossil fuel independency. Be it biting cold or blazing sun , the billions in India and China will buy more cars than the whole world put togather in the next five years.
If markets are shifting then why not shift the corporate strategy, people strategy , design strategy , execution strategy and management strategy. Why not make culture the key strategy !
"When the rate of change outside the organisation is greater than the rate of change inside the organisation then the end is in sight" - Yes we sighted the Chapter 11 end. Now for a new start ! GM Redux will depend on the following points :-
Fritz Henderson must get this guy "Shai Agassi" on the Board along with "Ratan Tata" and Edward Whitacre, Jr. as Chairman of New GM not such a great idea.He already sit on the heavy weight Exxon board and he builds a New GM running on fuel cells and solar power. Conficting isnt it ? AT&T is also such a dusty legacy right?
Even as we tune into twitter and facebook for the re:invention of the New GM a few glaring and uncomfortable questions around cultural transformations remain. Its about execution like the Big Blue did and reinvention like Mark Hurd HP has !
The political time window is the next 3 years or further 4 more if Obama lasts another term unscathed from the global recession.
New GM need to fit in the new global economic architecture integrating the Americas, Dragon Land , Land of Raising Sun , EU and BRIC walls .
Assuming that Capitol Hill and Unions stay subtle at management interventions and management swift to external changes!Government Motors is Dammed but Detroitosaurus can Disco ! IF Only ............................................
Before it too late ..Henderson catch hold of the "The LongTail Pipe" ( The Green phrophet Shai Agassi Blog" | http://shaiagassi.typepad.com/the_long_tailpipe/ |
And more as yours truly will add to cement some points and perspective to put them in meaningful context ..stay glued !
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Money has no memory. Experience has. You will never know what the total cost of your education was, but for a lifetime you will recall and relive the memories of schools and colleges. Few years from now, you will forget the amount you paid to settle the hospitalization bill, but will ever cherish having saved your mother's life or the life you get to live with the just born. You won't remember the cost of your honeymoon, but to the last breath remember the experiences of the bliss of togetherness. Money has no memory. Experience has.
Good times and bad times, times of prosperity and times of poverty, times when the future looked so secure and times when you didn't know from where the tomorrow will come... life has been in one way or the other a roller-coaster ride for everyone. Beyond all that abundance and beyond all that deprivation, what remains is the memory of experiences. Sometimes the wallet was full... sometimes even the pocket was empty. There was enough and you still had reasons to frown. There wasn't enough and you still had reasons to smile. Today, you can look back with tears of gratitude for all the times you had laughed together, and also look back with a smile at all the times you cried alone. All in all, life filled you with experiences to create a history of your own self, and you alone can remember them all.
The first time you balanced yourself on your cycle without support... The first time she said 'yes' and it was two years since you proposed... The first cry... the first steps... the first word... the first kiss... all of your child... The first gift you bought for your parents and the first gift your daughter gave you... The first award... the first public appreciation... the first stage performance... And the list is endless... Experiences, with timeless memory... No denying that anything that's material cost money, but the fact remains the cost of the experience will be forgotten, but the experience never.
So, what if it's economic recession? Let it be, but let there not be a recession to the quality of your life. You can still take your parents, if not on a pilgrimage, at least to the local temple. You can still play with your children, if not on an international holiday, at least in the local park. It doesn't cost money to lie down or to take a loved one onto your lap. Nice time to train the employees, create leadership availability and be ready for the wonderful times when they arrive. Hey! Aspects like your health, knowledge development and spiritual growth are not economy dependent.
Time will pass... economy will revive... currency will soon be in current... and in all this; I don't want you to look back and realize you did nothing but stayed in gloom. If you are not happy with what you have, no matter how much more you have, you will still not be happy.
Make a statement with the way you live your life.
Respect life, live with passion.
Catch two remarkable movies that epitomize the undeniable magic of life , that magic of positive thinking and the magic of hope !