By on June 18, 2009

“We need to be able to make decisions faster.” Thus spake GM CEO Fritz Henderson to Automotive News [sub] at the National Business Summit yesterday. In what can only be termed a blinding flash of the almost obvious, he continued, “As part of the General Motors moving forward, you don’t normally think of us as speedy or fast, and that’s what we should be. But when you’re fast you do make mistakes. My view is if you’re slow, you make more mistakes. You just don’t notice it.” Huh? Anyway, what about organizational changes? What’s he waiting for?

That will be a discussion with you on a different day. [Ed: Not so fast! Not so fast!] But there are a number of things we need to do to run the business differently.

And what might those be?

It’s not just about getting our cost structure right and getting our capital structure right. It’s also making sure the decision-making process we use is working better. That’s our responsibility.

Well, it’s good to hear you’re finally taking responsibility for something. Does that mean the PTFOA will back off and let you take care of business?

They’re going to be actively involved through the bankruptcy process.

For how long?

We said 60 to 90 days, but it could be outside that. I’m not making another prognostication at this point.

And then what? The government will own 60 percent of the company. Do you really expect them to go away and let you run things?

Assuming that the judge approves the bankruptcy process and the 363 process [dividing GM’s good and bad assets] and we were to exit, the board would be in place and I expect we’d be operating on that basis then.


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17 Comments on “A Quick Conversation with GM CEO Fritz Henderson...”

  • avatar

    I gotta say, I rib Robert a lot on his GM stuff, but man, I gotta say this guy is as bad or worse than Wagoner. I had high hopes for him. Just another spin-talking Deadwood GM Exec. You know what the PTFOA should do? Fire everyone in the company over 40 years old. Problem solved.

    Someone once said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. (something like that) This, then, is insanity.

  • avatar

    Oh, and fire everyone with one of those cheezy Michigan mustaches. I tell you, I worked in that industry for 15 years, and that was the tell-tale sign you were working for a deadwood guy in the organization. The guy who spent 6 months deciding about a one week project. The guy who’d keep you on the phone for an hour talking about the weather or deer season or his riding lawnmower or his boat or his cabin. Fire them all, please.

  • avatar

    So nothing has changed at GM. Indeed of being large and mediocre they are smaller and mediocre.

    Same old crap, same old GM.

  • avatar

    The one decision that needs to be made to make a real difference hasn’t happened yet. Fritz and Mark LaNeve need to be run out of Detroit on a rail. Anyone else with the same ol’ GM way of thinking can also hit the road. The only way to fix GM is to change GM, and that’s not going to happen under the same old (mis)leadership.

  • avatar

    Fritz means he has to be very quick to say “yes” to decisions made by the Democratic Party, or he will lose his job to someone who better understands why he was selected to be figurehead. Here are a few decisions he’ll be “making”:

    – how to keep UAW members on the payroll, even though when they aren’t doing any work. (That’s what the bailout billions are for.)

    – how to switch part of his production line to windmills, Light Rail Transit, etc., all of which will be bought directly or indirectly with taxpayer money.

    – how to create projects and paperwork he can steer to all the lawyers and other third parties who backed Obama’s presidency. Any existing GM provider who donated to the Republicans can kiss their contracts goodbye.

    – how to create new cost centers, so that he can shift expenses away from vehicles he wants to claim are profitable. (Remember, this Phoenix is slated to rise from the ashes. The One will not tolerate screwups that tarnish his legacy.) Fritz’s political masters won’t let him kill the Volt, so he has to shuffle the costs he blows on this dead end to some other sink hole – preferably off GM’s books.

    – How to partner with Chrysler, so some of GM’s bailout bucks can be slid under the table to the UAW members there, and so Fiat can be paid off for solving Obama’s political problem.

    – How to become a high-profile business leader advocating for the virtues of carbon capture, cap-and-trade, and “responsible” industrial policy.

  • avatar

    Who’s writing his speeches? Maybe I should come out of retirement …..

    And “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” has been attributed to Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, an old Chinese proverb, and Martina Navratilova’s ex fiance Rita Mae Brown.

  • avatar

    Fritz: “We need to be able to make decisions faster.”

    Automotive News: “And when will you start doing that?”

    Fritz: “Maybe sometime in the future. Or maybe not…”

  • avatar

    @ Bertel.. I agree,For sure Fritz needs a good speech writer. Hook up with Buickman and get your resume’s in.

  • avatar

    Mikey: I think I ruined my career with that “Autobiography of BS” series.

  • avatar

    Whenever I see the points made here about the gubmint running the car industry (with the obvious eye rolling) despite having no industry experts or experience in the industry, I always think “yeah, look at the great job the industry experts and experienced types did to the industry!” And when I see nonsense like this from Fritz, it just reinforces that perception that the insider industry experts….ain’t.

    Or has the corporate culture at the Big 2.8 ground down the good ones and spit them out? Or just cultivate a “certain kind of person” that turn out to be budding Wagoners and Hendersons?

  • avatar

    tparkit :
    – how to switch part of his production line to windmills, Light Rail Transit, etc., all of which will be bought directly or indirectly with taxpayer money.

    This is actually a very good idea. There is tremendous overcapacity in auto manufacturing. There was even over capacity before the world economic meltdown. The world’s auto industries would be much healthier if Chrysler and GM stopped making cars.

    One (of many) of GM’s problems is they were not able to think outside the box. Germany, Japan, and China are pulling ahead of us in developing new energy ideas. (Germany – Solar, Japan & China – Batteries.)

    And even if you deniers are correct that global warming doesn’t exist and there are 1000’s of more years of oil it is still good to have alternatives.

    Besides Chysler and GM have proven they aren’t very good as profitable car companies so they should try some new products. If they succeeded with new ideas they could get rid of all their dealers:-)

  • avatar

    This sounds exactly like what IBM was saying before they came close to dying off in the early 1990’s. They seemed to think their problem was speed of execution when it wasn’t. Businesses didn’t want to buy their overpriced mainframes anymore and told IBM this by spending their dollars elsewhere.

    Now GM says its speed of decision making is an issue, I would strongly suggest their issue is finding enough people to buy their product at a price where they can make a profit.

    Everything else is just noise and bullshit …

  • avatar

    Well, at least Fritz didn’t say “deeper” or “harder” in addition to “faster”. That’s just creepy, and everytime I see his face, that comment just keeps coming back.

    I’m sorry, it’s burned into my consciousness now and I haven’t been able to reroute my synapses yet…

  • avatar

    I still say he will be gone by July 30th. And if he isn’t, God help GM.

  • avatar

    Well, at least Fritz didn’t say “deeper” or “harder” in addition to “faster”.

    Why do I read this post and start thinking about Daft Punk?

  • avatar

    “When you’re fast you make mistakes. When you’re slow, you make more mistakes. You just don’t notice it.”

    Oh, one of THOSE kinds of drivers.

  • avatar

    philbailey :

    Oh, one of THOSE kinds of drivers.

    That’s priceless!

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