This story is not “Shrek”, but the main character is a clueless great lump -
General “Aimless Arnie” Motors has been lost in the mist for a long time. For a long time he was used to fine weather and level prairie, but the clouds came in and it all got hilly and woody. However, he is 5 star confident, he will keep on doing what he has always done, no one is going to stop him on his route march to dominate the sprawling and forever breeding Motors family world wide.
The General is sweating heavily in his bright and shiny shell suit under the weight of his massive rucksack. He has not been fit for a long time. The ground under his wandering feet turns crumbly. Suddenly he is on a slippery slope and right on a cliff edge. He turns to face up the slope but he is stuck, he cannot move. He only just keeps his balance by flailing his arms. His rucksack is pulling him over, but it is full of trophies that prove how important he is and he cannot face dropping them over the cliff – he would rather die. He reluctantly jettisons a few of the more shoddy prizes, but they are not enough.
Out of the mist comes a saviour. It is Akela Angela with her pack of hungry little cubs. She demands his trophies from the rucksack and throws him a lifeline, which he grabs tight. Then scary Scoutmaster Peter turns up with his rapacious troop and the same demand. Peter squabbles with Angela, and, somewhere behind her, a Bear snuffles around. The General dithers and wobbles - and wobbles and dithers. Angela thinks she has won
And then the sun comes out and the mist clears.
The General regains his balance for the moment. He decides that he won’t let go of his trophies, not with a Bear about. He convinces himself that, now he can see the slope, he can scrabble back up. He hands back Angela’s lifeline and says no deal. Akela Angela is beside herself with rage, she had already promised the goodies to her little pack, and, more seriously perhaps, the Bear? She goes rushing off to tell teacher that it’s not fair. “How can I help?” asks scary Scoutmaster Peter pulling out his cunning rope.
What will The General do next?
§ Will he be able to keep his precarious balance for long enough?
§ Can he scrabble up the slope on his own?
§ Will he grab scary Scoutmaster Peter’s cunning rope?
§ Will anybody else ever again offer to help him?
§ Will the mists come back? How soon? How thick?
§ Has he any idea where he really is or where he needs to go next?
§ Has he worked out why he might have been smart to keep his trophies – or what to do with them?
§ Will Angela’s cub’s and Peter’s scouts link up, or will they just fight each other?
· Or, will Angela push him off the cliff? Might the Bear help her?
Seriously, General Motors’ Board could hardly have done worse.
They continue to act as though they have a Comparative Competitive Strength level of Comfortable whilst every possible bit of evidence shows that they are at the bottom of Constrained and actually dropping into The Abyss. Considering that there have been a number of individual replacements of Directors on this Board, it is amazing that there are no signs of a change in leadership attitudes and behaviours. Their apparent inability to look beyond next week to make rational decisions, and their continued behaviour as though they have any freedom of choice, remains incomprehensible. At least they do seem to know that something needs to be done, but preferably by someone else - anybody. It is totally clear that they do not know that they do not know what to do, why they need to do something, where to start or how to do it.
Do they deserve any help? The White House is not impressed -
Steve Rattner, the investment banker who headed the Obama administration’s auto task force until July, gave his views in an article published by Fortune magazine. Rattner said that he already knew the
Maybe complete disaster is the only route the GM leadership are capable of following? Is the unavoidable outcome now a complete collapse followed by the scouring of the smoking ruins by Angela’s cubs, Peter’s troopers, Asian scavengers and the Bear? Will
Or is there an alternative? Something fast, furious and affordable? Is there a Fairy Godmother with a Magic Pumpkin that can convert General Aimless into Captain Competent? Not quite, but the Competitive Strength Report and Process could come pretty close. If the top three layers of management teams in GM ran themselves through this before Christmas (it’s fast but totally feasible) they could finish up understanding what they need to do, why and where to start.
It’s not often that we think we can be a Fairy Godmother – but we know we have a Magic Pumpkin. Do we expect to be asked by The General?– No – but he can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And so can you if you are interested in the extraordinary insights that come from the Comparative Competitive Strength point of view, and how they may help you with your business survival, your investment plans or your bankers. Or please look at our website here.
"You're having a laugh ... seriously" is brought to you by Steve Goodman and Tony Ericson. It is one of our "Excellence Quartet" of blogs promoting the cause of Excellence as the key to prosperity. Each blog uses a recent business/financial topic to highlight different perspectives and conclusions from those obtained using conventional thinking and techniques. You can read the other three blogs at "Exceeding Expectations" ,Business Bloop of the Month Award", "Capitalism or ... Common Sense" .