Cadillac as a car company started from the ashes of a re-organization. Henry Leland was actually brought in to value the remaining hard goods by a board of directors of a car company about to dissolve. Leland had a reputation for precision machinery, and an interest in the new automobile market. He also had an improved, high-efficiency automobile engine, and convinced the board of directors to try to make a go of marketing a new car using his engine instead of closing down the business. The new company became Cadillac.
The history of the automobile industry in general is competition, competitive intelligence, surprising or reacting to the market. Knowing what your current (and new) competitors are bringing to market, anticipating the whims of the buying public, and reacting to outside stimulus (oil embargo, financial crisis). It takes some preparation to make a hundred thousand of something. Design, work, customer clinics, testing, tooling, manufacturing planning, and finally factory warm-up, piloting, and initial production. It is hard to “turn on a dime” when you need years of development to bring a product to market, but that is exactly what today’s automobile companies NEED to be able to do in order to react to market changes.
GM and Cadillac plan to announce another major re-organization today. I like the fact that Management is impatient with progress. I think as a company you have to put your best team on the field, but if that line-up does not produce results then you change the line-up until you find one that does. I know that this means more ‘churn’ and stress for the Employees at the company, but if the last few years have shown nothing else I think it HAS shown that they are both flexible and resilient. The main reason that someone would still be working at General Motors today is likely that they want to see GM rise from the ashes of bankruptcy and become again the great automobile company that they can be.
- Real car guys know how to sell cars
- Collaborate with the Dealers; treat them as a partner and give them more voice at the table
- Make the Voice of the Customer resound in the Board Room, in the Design Studios, and on the Factory Floor
- Fix reliability issues, keep fixing them and keep them fixed
- Reward those who are taking Risks, even if they are not successful. Reward innovation.