Industry Vet’s Plea to GM Goes Unheard

Rob Kleinbaum is a long-time automotive industry consultant and one-time GM employee who recently sent a letter to GM executives with a warning. The letter was titled Retooling GM’s Culture, and he said:

“Unless GM’s culture is fundamentally changed, especially in North America, its true heart, GM will likely be back at the public trough again and again until the public finally grows weary and allows its demise.”

GM you got served!

Well … I thought they did. But apparently none of the big shots wrote him back. Does GM not understand what it means to get served?

Kleinbaum also detailed how he regards GM’s way of doing business, which involves cutting ‘structural costs, then:

“wait for future products to bring salvation, and count on cash from the other regions (and, now, the government) to help prop things up in the meantime, but make no truly fundamental change in the business, its structure or people running it, as they are clearly the best and brightest, know how to manage things in a serious way and have a sound plan.”

How scary is that.

Kleinbaum links a memo written by Elmer Johnson to GM’s executive committee over 20 years ago. Johnson was an attorney GM recruited and considered CEO material. His memo said the same things—that the culture among GM’s top execs was flawed, and if they didn’t do something about it, they’d be in serious trouble.

Two letters, two decades apart, same theme, same response.

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