December 06, 2008

Fighting over the steering wheel

Micheline Maynard, in The New York Times, offers a perceptive account of the growth management failures that brought General Motors to where it is today. It’s a recap well worth reading because the tensions it describes are present in every organization.

Her bottom line:

"G.M.’s biggest failing, reflected in a clear pattern over recent decades, has been its inability to strike a balance between those inside the company who pushed for innovation ahead of the curve, and the finance executives who worried more about returns on investment.

The two views were rarely in sync — in effect, fighting over the steering wheel that controlled G.M.’s direction — and the internal battles distracted G.M. from spotting shifts in the marketplace.

Time and again over the last 30 years, G.M. has spent billions of dollars on innovative ideas like its Saturn small-car company in the 1980s and the EV1 electric vehicle in the 1990s, only to then deprive those projects of further financing because money was needed elsewhere or because they were not delivering enough profit."

Her article cites the pivotal decade of the 1960s as the time when GM’s DNA began to lose its innovation chromosomes.


<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?