Wednesday, July 16, 2008

GM's TurnaWhat

Do you remember that old Hot Tuna rock album You Can Tune A Piano But You Can't Tune A Fish (or was that REO Speedwagon)? Any way - Wagoneer GM CEO Rick Wagoner is up to his same old tricks again slashing jobs and cutting costs in a bid to save GM and keep his "turnawhat" on track. Isn't this what Wagoner does everytime GM's "turnawhat" hits a speedbump? Does he not know that doing the same things the same way and expecting different results is the definition of insanity? Calls to Rick's office went unreturned soliciting the company's need and ability to create new knowledge rather than gather and measure information regarding GM's future new product development efforts. (Hint: unless you come up with bread and butter vehicles like Camrys and Accords GM is going to be SOL. Gone are the days when a Corvette's or Solstice "halo" could save you. And you can also forget the goodwill or excitement of auto shows and good press. That's just stuff you're supposed to do.) Based on latest inquiries we were able to ascertain that it takes GM at least 5 days just to acknowledge receipt of an email or letter to Rick Wagoner. Apparently the earth is slow, but the oxen are patient. I did not invent that line - I stole it from Tom Selick and Bess Armstrong in the movie High Road To China. Well, insider wisdom has it that no one at GM is going to save GM single handedly. How's that for an insider unity statement. When Wagoner turns around to look I'd like to know who he sees following.

Now I've been waiting for GM's turnaround throughout CEO Wagoner's reign, but like the problems facing Starbuck's head Howard Schultz, all I've seen are a lot of "turnawhats". Closing stores, recipe dissemination and throwing a few fro-yo new drinks into the equation will not quite cut the mustard at Starbuck's "turnawhat" either. There's got to be a sale or merger discussion going on in there somewhere - that's what these leaders always do. Just no inventiveness or creativity can be seen galloping to the rescue. (No pun intended with George Gallop or all the other pollsters and information harvesters currently selling data to GM and Starbucks.) Without the ability to create new knowledge to lead the company away from the brink what else are the straight forward linear thinking problem solvers to do? Can I trademark that term (TURNAWHAT) like Pat Riley's "Threepeat?"

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