Pinch me--General Motors has exited bankruptcy and is now ready to take on its second life as a streamlined company. Its CEO, Fritz Henderson, has vowed to make cars that Americans are eager to buy. What an amazing statement. If that's the sentiment at the world's formerly largest auto manufacturer, what has GM been doing for the last 30 years?
Obviously this is the time to rally behind the company and hope for a quick recovery and great success. The nation needs this and so do all the workers who are reliant on the automobile industry. However, one wonders how and why GM is in this current position. In other words, what were they thinking? What kinds of conversations really went on in the boardroom? Did the board members sit around and convince themselves they were doing the right thing by manufacturing automobiles that were no longer being sold in enough volume to remain viable?
Although the economy has taken a huge hit, this undoing did not happen overnight. It took decades of careful planning, or misunderstood planning, to bring the company into bankruptcy. The real issue is whether the new CEO and board really have the imagination and creativity to understand the new marketplace.
For example, it was noted that the company's logo will remain the same, with the blue background. They had considered changing the background to green to symbolize the company's new focus on the environment. Thinking about logos and colors is not a great way to begin strategizing about selling more cars and falls back into the same mindset as before. The American consumer is smarter than to fall for a different hue as a metaphor for a better car.
GM has a second chance and everyone wants this to succeed, but they'll have to do better than tinkering with a logo. Build something people will buy.
Jonathan A. Schein is the publisher of MetroGreenBusiness.com and GreenBusinessCareers.com.
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