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.

When Smart is Beyond Stupid

When do managers talk about improvement and development with those they manage?  In most cases it is when managers are required to do so, during the organization’s annual performance appraisal time period.  In three previous posts (Replace performance reviews with leadership for quality; Facilitate performance, don’t appraise it; Performance appraisal: A pathway to mistrust) performance appraisal was discussed but since the practice is still very popular another appraisal of it is in order. Continue reading

Join the Race

 

With the race to become more productive, more competitive and more profitable having the answer to the question that continues to challenge business managers, how do you motivate people, can be the ticket to winning. Even though Frederick Hertzberg offered a direct and complete answer give them something motivating to do, the question for the majority of business managers remains unanswered.  Further, not understanding the depth of Hertzberg’s answer, we’ve even advanced another classification of management—management can’t do it but leadership can—in hopes of meeting the challenge.  Yet whether you are labeled a manager or a leader the challenge goes largely unmet.

 

What could be the root of the problem and the difficulty in dissolving it? Continue reading

Imagine

Many of America’s business-minded, especially corporate CEOs, are unabashedly advocates for the market being the solution to everything.  Privatize it, is the answer to it all!  Yet at the very same time they also spend vast sums of money on lobbyist to rig things in their favor, which often minimizes (and even eliminates) the dynamics of the market.  Seemingly for maximizing their profit relying on the market alone is not their preference, yet it is thought best for everyone else. Some even sing the praises of a free market and yet oppose full disclosure in labeling of products.  It appears they think free means free to maximize profit in any way one can. Go figure! Continue reading

Better Makes Better

It is a generally accepted goal that managers should hire best and the brightest.  However the evidence from experience hiring the best and brightest person does not always lead to best performance: Things don’t always work out as planned.  Why do you suppose this happens? Continue reading

The Rat Race—It’s Not Metaphor

When those in authority over an enterprise employ/hire someone they give him/her work to which he/she is to apply his/her labor in support of aim of the business enterprise.  This employer-employee arrangement is consistent with a basic principle of capitalism where capital employs labor.

 

We speak of being employed and being an employee without much further thinking about just what this could mean.  Continue reading

A Caveman Can Do It

Revenue, cost and profit are seen as foundational components in business and those viewing cost as a cause likely focus on a simple linear equation—(Profit = Revenue – Cost)—as the basis of their view.  After all it is quite straightforward since for a given amount of revenue cost determines greater or lesser profit.  Accordingly if one can get cost to zero (or to approach zero) then profit will be at its maximum—the very business of business is assured.  But is not so simple.  There is a missing piece to this.  Continue reading

Stupid Is, As Stupid Does

When Deming proclaimed costs are not causes he was trying to make quite obvious and clear (to those willing to listen) that focusing on outcomes is no way to manage and improve a system.  Focusing on results will not cause better results; only focusing on and understanding the system of causes will lead to lasting improvement. However, in spite of the hundreds of thousands of business minded people attending his seminars, to this day management of and by outcomes (aka metrics, analytics) remains the go-to practice.  I suppose Yogi Berra was right, if people don’t want to come out to the ballpark nobody is going to stop them! Continue reading

On Being Instrumental, A Tool

We’ve all heard in so many ways by so many that the customer is important to (our) business.  Why is the customer important to business?  Simply, the customer is the one who purchases the goods or services that a business sells; customers can bring profit to a business! That is to say, customers are instrumental to revenue generation that in turn can lead to profit.  So all you customers out there must feel pretty important, huh?  Continue reading