Thursday, September 4, 2008


A book written by Maryann Keller who has vast experience dealing with General Motor (GM) management culture. It's a story that reveals what was the actual problem that contributes to the fall of the giant company that once was the pride of america automobile industry.

The terms "14th floor" was very important because that is the area where most of the decision makers of GM were LOCATED located. Also the issue of GM attitude towards Japanese automobile company invasion to the US auto scene which to them is " NOT A BIG DEAL, WE CAN HANDLE THAT". The problem was they are serious in improving lots of thing accept for the improvement of the cars which was their biggest disadvantage compare to the Japanese cars.

Also the story of the partying cultures although during bad performance results. GM however accept the importance to joint force with Japanese company and finally decided to work with Toyota forming a company GM-Toyota. Their first project is a Chevy Nova.

The joint venture did not hit very well as the American is having hard time to adapt some of the Japanese working culture especially KAIZEN. No proper training on the robotic training also create problems.

In 1986 Ford exceed GM total sales and becomes the number one automotive company in the US.

Overall it's a very straight forward telling the truth writting and it's clear running a very big company and merging with another company from another country is not an easy task.



izwan ali wasi said...

Pekerja Proton n Produa kita ada culture KAIZEN tak?

Toyota da 'masuk' Produa.
Honda bila nak 'masuk' Proton?


salam izwan,

not really sure ...boleh tanye bebudak proton ngan perodua ni ..tapi banyak vendor protron/perodua yg ada their own version of KAIZEN ...

louis said...

It wasn't only that the US automobile industry that failed to learn from the fuel crisis of the 1970's.
The consumers too failed to learn the fundamental lessons of that crisis. The crisis, in our minds, was over when the base price of gas was lowered a few cents from the very rapidly imposed extraordinarily high prices.
It was completely overlooked that the new "low" base price was way higher than anyone would have accepted before the tightening of supply.
In our minds, the crisis had been solved, never mind the fact that the true reasons for the price gouging still existed: dependence on foreign oil to feed our gas guzzlers, and the fact that oil is not a sustainable resource.
And guess what? Eventually along from Detroit came the totally unnecessary SUV's that pandered to our recent thirst for power and status.
And guess what again? The same cycle is repeating itself: the oil companies, in their symbiotic relationship with the US auto industry, has used this to quickly inflate the base price of gasoline.
The same mentality of the 1970's is there: there was at first almost panic at the thought of gas selling at the unimaginable price of over $4 a gallon. But when the price dropped a few cents to $3.99 there was a general sigh of relief, as though the crisis had passed.
And of course the incentive for designing fuel efficient or alternative fuel vehicles will soon fade again.
Don't fall into that mental trap, Malaysia.

louis said...

Hi Rizal,

Funny you should mention the Chevy Nova.

That car was a big flop in Mexico, an important market for GM.

Why? Not engineering or management failure, but cultural ignorance. In Spanish" No va" translates as "It doesn't (go) work". Who would buy a car with such a name?


Hello loius,

Thanks for your brilliant comment. I guess that's the different of being just one of the reader of the book and the person who experience it first hand.

Malaysian for me are looking more on the design (which we do not get from Proton and Perodua) and that's why their interest is more to the non national cars , and I do not blame them for that.

And about Nova, another good example when joint venture project is just merely a joint venture project.