Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Welcome to GM, Ed Whitacre

The Dark Tower(s) by jdurchen

A new day is dawning at GM and there's a new sheriff in town. I'm curious to see how this will play out. How will GM reinvent itself under Ed Whitacre's leadership? The article got this right: "Despite his aggressive dealmaking, he is known to be somewhat conservative when it comes to operations."
I am far from being a Mr. Whitacre fan, having experienced his conservative style towards operations during my time at PacificBell/SBC/ATT. The company was not shy about plucking the best people and best practices from its acquisitions to be successful. It was an exciting time and I was proud to be a part of something important. I often look back at that time with an honest feeling of accomplishment. The telecommunications industry was rapidly changing and instead of turning a blind eye to the revolution, SBC/ATT became an industry leader again. It helped usher in the dot com boom and survived the bust. These days, it can offer you so much more, competing with other industry leaders for your hard earned dollar.
When was the last time you could honestly say the same for a GM product? That's not a rhetorical question. I know very little about the American car industry and living and working in San Francisco doesn't exactly inspire me or my family to run out and buy GM's latest and greatest. At the same time the telecommunications revolution was happening, GM rolled out the EV1. Had they just stuck with their guns and believed that the market would eventually come around (or did more to actually market this new product), maybe there would be more GM cars quietly tooling around California with these today. "If we could turn back the hands of time," said GM R&D Chief Larry Burns, "we could have had the Chevy Volt 10 years earlier." They've got some serious catching up to do. In these times, there's nowhere else to go but up, so I predict positive things, positive as in, anything over a value of zero is positive. I can see Whitacre thriving on the challenge and being unpopular as ever amongst the rank and file he will lead.

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