Car Guys vs. Bean Counters
The Battle for the Soul of American Business
A legend in the car industry reveals the philosophy that's starting to turn General Motors around.
In 2001, General Motors hired Bob Lutz out of retirement with a mandate to save the company by making great cars again. He launched a war against penny pinching, office politics, turf wars, and risk avoidance. After declaring bankruptcy during the recession of 2008, GM is back on track thanks to its embrace of Lutz's philosophy.
When Lutz got into the auto business in the early sixties, CEOs knew that if you captured the public's imagination with great cars, the money would follow. The car guys held sway, and GM dominated with bold, creative leadership and iconic brands like Cadillac, Buick, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, GMC, and Chevrolet.
But then GM's leadership began to put their faith in analysis, determined to eliminate the "waste" and "personality worship" of the bygone creative leaders. Management got too smart for its own good. With the bean counters firmly in charge, carmakers (and much of American industry) lost their single-minded focus on product excellence. Decline followed.
Lutz's commonsense lessons (with a generous helping of fascinating anecdotes) will inspire readers at any company facing the bean counter analysis-paralysis menace.
Overall, I enjoyed this book, but I found one glaring error that caused me to question the accuracy of everything else I read. Specifically, in talking about GM of the 80's, Lutz indicates that the company had decided to go all front drive, and with the advent of the ill-fated Cimarron, had no rear-drive cars other than the full-size sedans. This recollection ignores entirely the always well-selling G-body mid-sized cars (Cutlass, Monte Carlo, Regal, Grand Prix) of the 1980's. In fact, the Cutlass was a top-selling car for a period of time before it went front-drive in the late 80's. If Lutz can forget something this significant, what else is he getting wrong in this book?
he writes "process apostles" but it could also be "process apostates," heretics against logic and reason, as anyone who have had to deal with them will know
Passionate perspective in a world of dispassionate portfolio management
Any car nuts with desire to understand what has happened to the American car industry should read this book. I have been in love with American cars since my childhood in Cuba. I have also followed the stories on this cocky but extraordinary car guru "Bob Lutz" since his days at Chrysler, a true hero of the car industry and an honest reporter of its dysfunctional ways that led to bankruptcy. I want more on this topics, I will read anything Lutz writes.