Why GM Acted as It Did

As we learned that GM had waited until 2014 to recall vehicles having a defective ignition switch which causes the car to suddenly shut off rendering brakes, steering and airbags non-functional which can lead to accidents killing people I am reminded of a brief discussion about GM’s tunnel vision in the post Gravity of Vision.

 

“It is unfortunate that many believe that it is not what the vision is, but what the vision does that makes it so important. For many having a goal is all that matters.  Accordingly most visions are in effect mission statements—what some might call BHAG (big hairy audacious goal).

As illustration consider GM’s vision, “Design, Build and Sell the World’s Best Vehicles.”  This speaks not of people but of things—yes the objects—the organization makes.  While GM’s statement offers a far-reaching noble goal it does not offer guidance to people toward developing and maintaining meaningful relationships with each other and the work.

When results-only becomes the thing then meaning is lost as everything becomes objectified.  Moreover as concern for results dominate relationships all interaction among people become mere transactions. Unavoidably, motivation turns to movement caused external authority and people become disconnected from the work.  Because engagement in the work turns superficial keeping people on task toward results guides the approach of management.”

 

I think it speaks to why GM acted as they did—choosing not to incur costs in recalling and replacing the defective part—and likely will continue to act similarly in the future unless management changes the profit-only intent and correspondingly the morally bankrupt vision of the business.

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