GM's Whitacre not finished cleaning house

GM's Whitacre not finished cleaning house http://tinyurl.com/ya5qbnh
DANIEL HOWES
Three months into the era of Big Ed Whitacre and this much is clear
about his General Motors Co.:
Change isn't coming fast enough for the retired telecom exec-turned-auto CEO or for GM's active board of directors, and one of the chief reasons appears to be that there are still too many old GM hands near the top of the building. So the house cleaning of the executive ranks continues, however much the corporate spin tries to suggest otherwise.
The latest departure is the inimitable Bob Lutz, the septuagenarian whose style, influence and knack for effective infighting unleashed GM's technical know-how and helped make (some of) the General's metal cool again. At 78, he can retire on his own terms knowing his tenure made GM's cars and trucks better than they otherwise would have been.
Not sure whether Whitacre will be able to say the same thing. For his management-by-musical-chairs will either find the right combination of people and assignments to make GM solidly profitable, or it will project panic, sow confusion and reap the kinds of internal resentment that delivers less performance, not more.
Three months after Whitacre ousted Fritz Henderson, the ex-CEO comes back as a highly paid consultant. Less than three months after Whitacre made Susan Docherty the U.S. sales and marketing wunderkind, she gets stripped of half the job because, as one executive explained to me, she was "getting swamped" by its scope.
Weeks after Whitacre relied on John F. Smith to smooth relations with European politicians and employees over GM's about-face on its plans for its Adam Opel GmbH unit in Germany, Smith gets pushed into an early retirement and the responsibility for managing strategic relationships falls to GM's jack-of-all-directors, Stephen Girsky.
GM is officially in the drama business -- which couldn't make it look more different than that other Motown turnaround project in which an outsider CEO focuses Ford Motor Co.'s long-timer Blue Oval talent on a cohesive, clearly defined plan and sticks with it.
Whitacre? Not so much, judging by the management churn that has "short-term tactics" written all over it. Where Ford's Alan Mulally and his four-point plan is by now the stuff of dull repetition, and where the results speak for themselves, there's uncertainty about whether Whitacre has a plan and, if so, what it actually may be.
"There's a hundred ways to run a company," a GM executive who recently left the company told me, "and he picked one -- just go sell more cars."
If only it were that simple. If only GM didn't have data, as it was explained to me, suggesting Cadillac doesn't resonate as much as hoped with folks looking for a car that says they've "made it." Or that the bailout of GM and the United Auto Workers gives customers a reason to steer clear of GM showrooms.
If only a flip-side of the global recall scandal rocking rival Toyota Motor Corp. didn't include the cash-rich Japanese automaker using sales incentives and cut-rate financing to woo wary customers -- a race GM may want to avoid but probably cannot as it strives to rebuild its sagging market share.
If only Ford's ability to execute an impressive turnaround didn't stand as an obvious example that Detroit automakers possess the talent to compete anywhere in the world, so long as they're led with clarity, purpose and a commitment to produce world-class vehicles.
"The thing that encourages me is that the official credo of governing now is, 'design, build and sell the best cars and trucks,'" Lutz told Automotive News in an interview Wednesday after the Geneva Motor Show. "The company is on the right track."
Hard to tell at times like these. Lutz, a consultant to Whitacre until May 1, insists he was not asked to leave. He probably wasn't, chiefly because Whitacre is smart enough to know he can learn from Lutz -- and said as much in his obligatory remarks confirming Maximum Bob's looming exit.
This much is clear: The early days of Big Ed's era are all about distancing the new GM from the past and the people who defined much of the old GM -- Henderson at the top, Smith in planning, LaNeve in marketing, Cole in Washington, Young in finance, to name a few -- because the past also was marked by epic failure.
Fair enough. Also clear is that Whitacre is keen to retain the automotive cred that makes the preponderance of GM's cars and trucks contenders in key markets around the world. He should, because that's the whole ballgame.
Sacrificing the continuity of global product development, embodied in Vice Chairman Tom Stephens, for one, risks derailing the momentum that helped the automaker survive bankruptcy -- and regaining that mojo takes a whole 'nother kind of speed GM cannot afford to lose.
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Civis Romanus Sum

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On 04/03/2010 9:20 AM, Jim Higgins wrote:

Lip gloss to look good before asking for more taxpayers money.

Huh? What a trud polish. If Putz, sorry Lutz was fired in bankruptcy he wouldn't have gotten the fat severance and pension. These guys are not stupid.

He will not be able to pull it off any time soon, GM is rotten to the core. Short of 100% management turnover it can't be done.

Shoot first, listen later management style. Has to be a crappy place to work.

And welshing on payments to the German government that gave them money on provisions GM never kept. Hey, deal with GM and get burned is pretty traditional by now no?

I would not say Ford is out of the woods, but GM is still years behind.

Maybe a pump and dump? Pump up GM and then sell it off? Hey, now that the uber-rich and powerful have the bailouts there is no more need for Government Motors.

Each one subsidised by the taxpayer, and don't forget GMAC getting more taxpayers cash to do it by.

Sure does. Between crappy products and picking our tax pockets, the GM brand is scard heavy duty. UAW/CAW wankers can eat s--t, they are steeling from us.

How about GMs pending recalls - LMAO. And the people being stiffed with fires, manifolds, steering colums etc.

By not doing brand damage by screwing the rest of the country will save Ford. They still have UAW/CAW wankers, but people blame the company, GM & Chrysler.

What are they going to say, they build crap?

Turd polishing. These boys have it rigged up. If Whitacre called Lutz a putz then the lawsuits and back room old boys club politics starts up.

People will know for decauses about GM using the tax system for bailouts and no one charges for the false financials under SOX. In time it will be seen for what it is, corruption.

Might want to add dwindling. As no meaningful economic recovery is going to happen for awhile. With the wealth drop, the lower wages, less pay in the jobs that do come by, hell, never been harder to sell an overprices GM POS. People want alternatives, green ones, ones that leave green in our pockets like Tata Nana, Zenn, maybe a Chinese import or two at Walmart prices.

Momentum? 90% of GM was sitting on it's ass January 2009 through to the end of pseudo bankruptcy.
It was about saddling debt on main street and bilking taxpayers all a long.
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Politicians don't provide anything, the tax payers do.
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Once again Mike Hunter has added his tedious, boiler plate reply and now I add him to my kill-file. Goodbye.

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