By on July 12, 2011

Alan Mulally should be named Chairman and CEO of General Motors…immediately. The General needs talented executive leadership with experience in the automotive industry. And if you look at the track record so far of GM’s present top management – Lt. Dan and his sidekick Girsky – there’s no reason to believe they’ll do any better tomorrow.

Let’s call this the way we see it – Alan Mulally is more talented than anyone else running an auto company today. He comes from an industrial production background, he’s an engineer by training, and knows in his heart that product supremacy wins sales. And let’s keep in mind that Ford was a basket case when he took the reins. Today, it’s net cash positive, its corporate credit rating will move to investment grade within a year, and the cars and trucks are industry-leading, not me-too followers. This is a result from a guy that has had two jobs proving that he can run complex industrial companies successfully (Boeing Commercial Airplane and Ford). And GM needs him desperately.

I’m not here to bash Dan Akerson. Others have already done that. Maybe he’s the right guy to run a telecom company. The real question is – and one US Taxpayers should ask – don’t we want the best guy (or gal) possible running the largest industrial beneficiary of our funds? We still own 32% of this company – and need the stock price to be at least $54 to come out whole. At today’s price of $31 share, that’s a lot of ground to cover. Ask yourself this – can Dan Akerson achieve the results needed or is there someone better? Duh…the answer is….Alan!

So here’s the pitch. First, Alan’s departure from Ford wouldn’t decimate that company. The plan is already in place for the next five years of future products. The groundwork is done – everyone knows the plan. The only questions remaining for the company are: 1) Can Ford succeed in Asia; and 2) Can (or should) Lincoln be resurrected? We just don’t know who could replace him – and another outsider might be the best choice to keep the company from backsliding into endless turf battles. To the point though, Ford is in good enough shape today that a new CEO already has a good roadmap from the start.

Second, there’s no such thing as industrial secrets in Detroit – everyone has a view (mostly) into what everyone else is doing. So Alan would bring the industrial secrets with him to GM but so what? Where Ford has been successful to date is well communicated – and that’s its EcoBoost strategy combined with global platforms (where possible). Continued leadership in NAFTA light trucks with its own diesels in the heavy duty models (and maybe in the F-150 soon). Layer on top of that advances in electronic wizardry and there you have the future of Ford’s products. Would his knowledge of Ford’s future strategies benefit GM? I doubt it. GM has a different set of problems, a larger and somewhat disjointed global footprint, and no real discernible or differentiating product strategy (at least in North America). Building 120,000 Chevy Volts (and Opel Amperas) per year, if even possible, isn’t a strategy.

Third, it’s time to realize that Ford and GM are US companies with a depository of industrial talent and know-how that should be nourished and cultivated. The real battle isn’t between these two Detroit companies as in the past (Chrysler was always a third-place player with no global presence) but against the Germans, the Japanese, and now the Koreans. Eventually, everyone will be competing against the Chinese too (but that’s a way off). It’s important that the US have two leading companies in automotive – especially given that there is an explosion of new technology (engines, electrification, materials, safety, electronics, emissions, etc.) coming. This is a worldwide battle for dominance – not a regional play – and that takes scale and reinvested profits to play the game. Ford’s got the profits but GM is still finding its way everywhere but in China. Alan’s leadership at GM will make it the global automotive powerhouse it should be – and help secure for the USA the intellectual property, the talent, and the industrial base needed to keep the USA in the game.

And last, the Government needs to exit its ownership of GM promptly and at least on a breakeven basis. To get to the finish line, you go with your best horse and jockey. The bankruptcy of GM fixed most of the ailments of the old horse – and that was its crushing debt load, its retiree benefits, and superfluous brands and factories, and its uncompetitive labor costs. But what hasn’t been yet fixed at GM is the problem of real leadership from the corner office. GM’s Board needs to hire Alan to the job.
Everyone wants GM and Ford to succeed. We want these two companies to battle it out for dominance of the US market – and carry the flag of American innovation and brilliance to the other corners of the globe. (Chrysler in third place – still – keeps everything interesting though.) But to get there, GM needs Alan Mulally.

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69 Comments on “Why GM Should Hire Alan Mulally...”


  • avatar
    Dimwit

    But does Mulally need GM? Not likely. The biggest knock against GM is that it doesn’t have a Bill Ford. There’s no one that can anoint the CEO and say, “That’s my guy, follow him or you’re fired.” Every CEO has either been mired in turf wars or floated above them, putting a happy face on the corp without actually affecting much.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      A Bill Ford is a double-edged sword, as he can also nominate a Jac Nasser type and working together manage to bring the company to the brink of bankruptcy.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Even Alan Mulally cannot raise the dead.

      • 0 avatar
        Sam P

        I wouldn’t say GM is “dead”. They’re actually making cars that people like these days – in contrast to even 5 years ago, when their passenger car lineup save the Corvette and CTS was dismal at best.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Sam, I had high hopes that GM would live long enough to pay back all the money the US tax payer bailed them out with. But in view of everything that has passed over the two years since the bail out, and everything yet to come with our dismal economy in the next two years, I don’t see where GM has a snowball’s chance in hell, if it stays in the US. We should have dumped them like we did Chrysler.

        However, if GM moves to China, makes Buick a China-exclusive and imports them to North America, there may be a glimmer of hope yet. But GM would also have to retire GMC to the realm of Oldsmobile, Hummer, Saturn and Pontiac, and downsize to a two-brand auto manufacturer (Chevy and Caddy).

        Another helpful tactic may be to move production to Mexico and import cars and trucks under NAFTA, like they do from Canada. Ever since they started making them in Mexico, quality has skyrocketed and profit per vehicle made in Mexico has soared.

        In spite of the numbers of vehicles GM sells, they still cannot stand on their own without special tax accommodations, tax exemptions, and the tax payer bail out bucks. Just because GM tells us that they paid back all the money to the tax payers doesn’t make it so. It is creative accounting because we, the people, are still out billions and billions of bail out bucks, and the taxpayers have no business being part-owners in Government Motors. Only the UAW continues to live large on the tax payer dime. The rest of us are paying for them to live high on the hog.

        I’m afraid that without divine intervention, GM is toast. Stick a fork in them. They’re done.

  • avatar
    pgcooldad

    I have to apologize for not reading the article but the first thing that comes to mind is a NON-COMPETE CLAUSE when I read the title.

    This isn’t like plucking him out Boeing.

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      Exactly. It would be verging on malpractice not to include a non-compete in Mullaly’s employment agreement for the maximum duration permitted under Michigan law.

      Which renders about 95% of this article um . . . “of limited utility.” The other 5% is worthwhile, however. That 5% is the point, not particularly developed, that Lt. Dan has zero experience running a manufacturing enterprise. Telecom is a profoundly different industry than any manufacturing industry. Above all, it is a cost-driven business where the most successful competitors are those who manage costs.

      That said, Alan Mullaly isn’t the only person out there with a proven record of managing a product-driven manufacturing enterprise. Consider Douglas R. Oberhelman, CEO of Caterpillar Corp., by any measure a successful, product-driven, manufacturing company and certainly comparable to Boeing Aircraft. Like Boeing, Ford and GM, Caterpillar competes world-wide and has foreign competitors.

      So, it’s certainly appropriate to ask why “Lt. Dan” is driving the GM Bus (other than, like Goverment Motors’ Ed Whitacre, he comes from a telecom background). And it’s certainly appropriate to be concerned about a guy whose background is in an industry where the single story for the past 20 years or so is about cutting costs, given that mere cost-cutting is a proven fail in the auto industry (having been tried already by GM and Chrysler).

      But let’s talk about somebody other than Mullaly as a potential replacement. I think there are good people out there, who have backgrounds analogous to Mullaly’s, before he joined Ford.

  • avatar
    CarPerson

    Sorry but a bunch of Boeing people want Alan back:

    http://bringbackalan.com/

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Alan Mulally should be named Chairman and CEO of General Motors…immediately

    Unless you plan on instituting a corporate draft, this might be a bit difficult.

    I’m not here to bash Dan Akerson.

    Ah, shucks, sure you are.

    I haven’t paid much attention to him, but he seems to be better than Rick Wagoner. (Then again, there are stray pets in my neighborhood would be better at running GM than Rick Wagoner, so that may not be saying much.) He seems to get that cars are ultimately consumer products — yes, just like a can of Coke in that respect — and that it’s easier to make money if the priority is on making customers happy.

    He still has issues to confront, but a lot of those were inherited. The bankruptcy cut out a lot of unnecessary bulk, but it still left one too many US distribution channels (GMC-Buick), including a near-luxury brand that nobody really needs in a market that has moved away from them (anyone remember Saab? Mercury?) and a full truck line that should have been positioned as a trim level, rather than as a full-fledge marque.

    In that sense, GM’s greatest enemy may be itself, as there is still too much fat in the North American operation and the branding still needs work. But the cars really are getting better, so it isn’t entirely hopeless.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Speaking as a guy that has a dog in this fight, YES! yes, and yes again. Hire him on the spot.

    Bill Ford will go down in history, as the guy that saved Fomoco. It took some big brass ones to hand your great, great grandaddy’s company over to an outsider.

    Al didn’t worry about who he peed off. He didn’t have to concern himself with golf buddies,or guys he went to school with. Mr M didn’t give a rats a– where the bodies were buried.

    Ya… if I got a vote {I don’t}…HIRE THE DUDE..please!

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Before Bill was a saviour (but really that was Alan), Bill was the 3rd Ford (HF1, HF2, Billy) in less than a century that nearly ruined the company.

      To avoid a boardroom & Class-B shareholder coup, Bill HAD to hand the reigns over.

  • avatar
    NulloModo

    I’d bet dollars to doughnuts that Mulally has provisions in his contract that will lead to big bonuses when Ford regains investment grade status and when the stock price reaches a certain point (and those two things are likely very related).

    While I agree he could do wonders for GM, he still has a lot left to do at Ford. Things are on the right track, but Lincoln still needs a lot of work, and Ford is still playing #2 to GM in US sales, which needs to be fixed.

    • 0 avatar
      Silvy_nonsense

      Let’s also add in making significant market share gains in China, India, Russia and everywhere else that demand for autos is exploding and Ford is under represented.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Alan is good, but so is the leadership at Hyundai and Nissan, for example.

    GM’s problem isn’t a lack of talent, it’s cultural. And that boat is mighty hard to turn.

    I agree with Dimwit – GM needs a Bill Ford to make an Alan Mulally successful, and that will happen when pigs fly.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I thought they just should have tried harder to keep Whitacre around…

  • avatar
    BuzzDog

    I’d love to see this, if for no other reason than to read z71_silvy’s comments in the days that follow. :)

  • avatar
    stuki

    Hero worship is one of the prime reasons why American manufacturing is rapidly becoming a basket case. There are plenty of people out there with “engineering backgrounds” who knows that “product is king.” Mulally is one of them, I guess. I’m sure he’s good at being a CEO as well. But to suggest all that is wrong with a gigantic cluster-f like GM can be fixed by hiring ONE guy, is a bit like suggesting we would all be Nazis now, but for the lucky birth on US soil of some guy named Dwight Eisenhower.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      Well-said. Politics also suffers greatly from hero worship; I tire of hearing how the world will end if the ‘wrong’ candidate is elected, or vice-versa.

      • 0 avatar
        bomberpete

        Agree with gslippy and stuki. This fanboy worship of CEOs is way out of hand. Ken Elias acts like Ford is “mission accomplished” when that’s total BS.

        Look, I admire what Mulally’s done, but my shares of Ford — bought at $5 — are at $13.25. They should be even with or ahead of GM. Yes, things have improved dramatically, but there’s no reason to break out the champagne in Dearborn just yet. There’s still work to do. Remember that $6 billion in debt? Is it retired yet? The newest U.S. products have had some launch problems, Sync is a disaster waiting to happen, China is alien to them and they’ve still mortgaged everything they once owned. Finally, when the time does come, Ford has got to have someone better than the mullet-boy as Al’s successor.

        It’s really kind of nauseating to think just one talented CEO can turn around that cluster-F they call General Motors. For proof, take a look at the way Wall Street thinks Akerson’s a genius for the con job he pulled off on the American taxpayer last fall.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      “Tone at the Top” plays an extremely important role in the culture of a company. One of the most important moves a CEO can make is to fire those who don’t get with the program but to not do it in such a way as to cause a chill over the organization such that fear stifles dialogue, discussion, and loyal dissent.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        But the tone at the top is much more a function of what outside factors like inertia, the socioeconomic environment etc. demand, than of some magic underwear worn by some supposed Marvel Comics Leader Man. I’m not saying the choice of CEO is entirely irrelevant; I’m pretty sure Mulally would do a better job at GM than I would (at least I’d hope so); but our contemporary culture of tabloid hero worship, is vastly overrating the importance of all “our leaders.”

        There can, sometimes at least, be positive side effects of playing up a “leader” as well. Look at Apple. It’s not like Jobs is all that personally instrumental anymore, half dead that he is, but his (well crafted ad much hyped) legend may well be sufficiently inspiring to get that little extra from all the thousands of people whose combined effort do sum to a measurable difference.

        Or then again, maybe his only legacy was to distract US technology manufacturing from cost savings, while earning only temporary praise for focusing on frivolities that only makes sense in an environment of unsustainable leverage increases. Like the supposedly “great” yahoos running our biggest banks. We won’t really know for sure until this debt supercycle is over, which is probably still a decade or three off.

    • 0 avatar
      Silvy_nonsense

      A highly competent, dynamic leader can make all the difference in the world. To suggest that -not- hiring one guy won’t make a significant difference is naive.

      Apple didn’t magically fix itself. I’m pretty sure that if Alexander of Macedon hadn’t been born, a huge swath of the western world wouldn’t have conquered itself. Would General Motors have assembled itself into an industrial juggernaut without the work of Alfred Sloan? Probably not.

      American manufacturing is becoming a basket case because there aren’t enough heroes to go around.

      • 0 avatar
        alfabert

        Corporate America is a basket case because people like Alan Mulally were stuck at number 2 or number 20,000 or worse, at Boeing. And Boeing was better than average.

        If you don’t believe me about Boeing: how many flights would YOU take/survive in a GM vehicle? QED

  • avatar
    colin42

    Tim Solso (CEO of Cummins) announced his retirement today (effective end of the year) – As someone who has turned an industrial company from a cyclic “day’s from bankruptcy” company to a “What was that bump in the road – oh a recession! Never mind more forward men (and women)” he’d be a perfect fit, but then if I was Tim I’d take my millions and enjoy my beach house(s)

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    Why should Alan do that?

    1. If I were he, I wouldn’t go near a government/union controlled company like GM. How can you win.

    2. Why not wait until the second C 11, and by the whole ball of wax cheap?

  • avatar
    Flybrian

    Whitacre was yards ahead of Akerson. At least he wasn’t a blowhard. Let’s get him back at least.

    • 0 avatar
      Silvy_nonsense

      I’d hate to think that those two are the only men in America who can run GM. I get enough heart burn during Presidential elections trying to choose between the lesser of two evils. I’d like to think that there’s a manufacturing executive out there, somewhere in the world, who can run GM as well as or better than Mulally can run Ford.

  • avatar
    Sam P

    Waiting for the inevitable Z71 Silvy take on this. That is, if his or her head hasn’t already exploded.

    • 0 avatar
      Silvy_nonsense

      The effect on blowhards like Z71 Silvy would be ten times funnier if Mulally pulled a Carlos Gsohn and ran both GM and Ford simultaneously. The GM fanboys wouldn’t know whether to poop or go blind.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    It looks like Ford has been Clintonized, stripping

    everything to get the books to look good. If they were really top they’d at least be ahead of a recently BK company like GM, don’t you think?Oh you mean GM’s Board, not CEO! Fritz and Ed were pioneers too and both got punted. Allan hasn’t invested in a Volt, they don’t have a Cadillac. Or a Corvette. Ford has been strippe of it’s future!

    • 0 avatar
      Silvy_nonsense

      If Fritz and Ed were “pioneers” then they were the automotive industry equivalent of the Donner party.

      I’m not sure I’d be bragging up the Volt. Getting lots of press coverage and selling like gang busters aren’t the same thing. The all electric Nissan Leaf is outselling the Volt 3 to 1. It looks like GM wasted a ton of money developing a car that addresses a “range anxiety” that most people don’t seem to have.

      Ford doesn’t need a Corvette because Ford produced the GT40, a vastly superior car. (Which of the following words go together: divorced, overweight, white male, Corvette, mid-life crisis, unnecessary driving gloves. Answer: all of them.)

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        Divorced? No.
        Overweight? Ten pounds.
        White male? Yes.
        Corvette? Not yet.
        Mid-life crisis? Been there, done that.
        Unnecessary driving gloves? No.

        Corvette, again? I wish I could sign up immediately!
        Ford GT40? You’ve got to be kidding!

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        @Silvy_nonsense- Total EV volume is still very low. Leaf has just barely outsold Volt, and then only due recent material supply disruption due to the problems in Japan. Chevrolet has sold every Volt that can be produced and has a waiting list. Volt remains the only viable EV. The Leaf is a toy by comparison. GM is working to double Volt capacity to meet demand.

        As for the Ford GT: It barely edged the base Corvette, and can’t come close to competing with Corvette Z06, let alone similarly priced ZR1. Corvettes are real, usable cars. The Ford GT was a poor attempt to capitalize on Ford’s racing success 45 years ago!

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      Ford doesn’t have a Volt, but it does have a mainstream hybrid vehicle in the Fusion Hybrid which makes a lot more sense right now, an Electric Focus on the way, and a couple of plug-in hybrid vehicles as well.

      As far as the future goes, Ford released a groundbreaking new engine for its bread and butter F-150 this year, that is already the most popular choice amongst buyers. Ford has a completely modern and competitive B/C/D lineup, and an all new Fusion coming next year. Ford was in the right position to take advantage of booming CUV sales with the Escape, Edge, and now the new Explorer, and has an all new Escape coming next year as well.

      Lincoln is really the only big question mark left in the lineup, and the push to revitalize the brand has just begun, so look forward to some major moves there in the future.

  • avatar
    lmike51b

    Mulally shouldn’t be so unlucky/cursed to be the next “chosen one” of GM. Maybe Steve Jobs?

  • avatar
    Sundowner

    What GM needs is someone with an engineering background (NOT an MBA) who understands that quality/attractiveness of product drives sales. These are not complex concepts, but they are foriegn to GM and (they were) to Ford.

    I’d also like to make the US Government complicit in this, as well. Not for the control they’ve held over GM (I actually think they did fairly well, so go ahead and hate me for it) but for the politically spineless way the .gov has handled fuel pricing in this country. Every other country with a competitive automaker has a consistent fuel policy that sets fuel pricing. The US is the only country in the world where gas can be cheap this month (let’s buy a Tahoe!) or expensive next month (Let’s buy a Prius!). The average consumer has an attention span of about the same length as a Katy Perry song, and we all know it. We, as consumers are horribly fickle when it comes to buying cars. It must be maddening for US autmakers to spin the revolver of fuel price projections and pull the trigger with barrel in-mouth when picking new product for advancement.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    If GM hires Mulally, Educator Dan will have to change his avatar to a red-head! Nooooooooooooooo!

    GM should still hire him immediately.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    I don’t think they would consider doing that; lightning won’t strick twice. Bill Ford openly welcomed Mulally because he really needed a man with his ability. GM is too hide-bound to be truly accepting.

  • avatar
    PaulVincent

    “Everyone wants GM and Ford to succeed.” Wrong. I want Ford to succeed, but I want GM to collapse. I detest Government Motors, and that is putting it mildly.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      Really ? So a GM collapse where thousands lose thier job, and the Government gets zero back, that would make you happy?

      Me..I’d like somebody to discover a cure for cancer. Figure out a way to end world hunger. Maybe would find a way for the Muslims and Jews to find some common ground. Or maybe the Catholics, and Protestants, in Northern Ireland to tip back a couple of beers,and iron out thier differnces.

      End child abuse,and kiddy porn..the list goes on.

      But you “PaulVincent” want to see a multi-national faceless corporation that employees thousands collapse.

      Jesus wept

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        Amen.

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        In defense of “PaulVincent” I suspect his point is the moral hazard aspect of all of these government bailouts, of both automakers and investment bankers.

        Imagine yourself walking a tightrope 1000 feet above the hard pavement in downtown Manhattan. You’re going to be very careful, right? You’re not going to do anything stupid, right? You’re not going to take any unnecessary risks, right? Because it’s your skin that’s in the game, totally.

        Now imagine the same scenario with a nice, secure net just two feet under that tightrope. Tell me you’re not going to be a little less careful, a little more inclinded to showboat for the folks watching. Especially when you pocket the rewards for this risky behavior.

        Same situation with bailouts of Government Motors and Big Banking. All of the players in that game — management, investors and the unions — now understand that they have a partner sharing the risk (while they get all of the rewards) — the US taxpayer. And all of the players who happily pocketed the rewards for taking these risks and/or kicked the can of known problems down the road are not suffering for having done that.

        If, despite the bailout, Government Motors fails, then the players will get that message — that ultimately, even with the government as a partner, you can’t shift risks that you assume away from yourself — . . . and perhaps the government will never be tempted to do that sort of thing again (and let’s remember that the bailout mentality was a mostly bi-partisan phenomenon, something the Republicans are trying to make people forget). And the concept that the bailout “saved jobs” is a sham. Two-tier wage scales, layoffs and plant closings in the auto industry give the lie to that, not to mention the thousands of Pontiac and Saturn dealers and their employees (and, on a smaller scale, Saab and Hummer dealers, too). GM’s valuable assets would have been purchased by someone else; they would not have evaporated into thin air.

        The government should have provided debtor-in-possession financing for GM while in bankruptcy . . . that’s it.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    I must have missed the news story about Alan looking for another gig. I bet he’s well taken care of at Ford and smart enough to know which side his bread is buttered on.

    The bailout only prolonged the inevitable. 31 dollars a share is a recent recovery, it hit 28 two weeks ago. Both numbers are probably inflated, just wait until Barry sells off our stake at a huge loss.

    I don;t think one man can make THAT much of a difference, especially not in a company larger than most government agencies (that happens to be a government agency now).

  • avatar
    NN

    One man can make a big difference if given enough power/leverage. Look to both Ghosn and Mulally for proof.

    GM already had one big personality in Lutz, though he wasn’t CEO. Should he have been? Or was GM’s pre-bankruptcy bureaucracy still too stifling to allow one individual to make a big enough difference?

    I would prefer Mulally stay at Ford for a few more years so he can fix their recent quality woes and lead their expansion into emerging markets. As has been stated; there’s still a lot of work to do here.

    I’d like to see GM bring in Ghosn, who may actually have better experience with dealing with governments, unions, etc.

  • avatar

    I think NN makes an excellent point – Mulally and Ghosn have both had an enormous success at their respective roosts, but I suspect it’s not just the individuals involved, but the corporate culture into which they fall. GM unfortunately “decided” almost 50 years ago that the product was secondary to the accounting, and that the real “product” they created was cash. Although Ford and Chrysler were forced to adapt, I don’t think it ever became the religion that it did within GM. Ultimately, the strategic value of a corporation is in the quality of the product they create, the quality of workplace they represent and their commitment to maintaining their reputation as an honest and hardworking corporate citizen. From these qualities, long term profits emanate.

    Accounting can be used to create the illusion that a corporation, or citizen for that matter, really is making strategic moves, but the ultimate proof is in surviving and prospering through hard times. The big three were “saved” in the early 80′s when the government heavily subsidized the auto business, both with trade restrictions on imported trucks and with depreciation schedules which encouraged rapid turnover of any vehicle, but then only trucks with GVW >6000 lbs. The truck exemptions to fuel and safety regulations allowed all three to live in a fantasy world which was finally ended by high priced fuel in 2008.

  • avatar
    gessvt

    Alan Mulally? Pshaw.

    GM needs Bob King.

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    Lt Dan was chosen not because of his leadership or his understanding of the manufacturing process, but because of his reputation of increasing the value of his corporation’s stock — a former Wall Street darling. Never mind that one goes about it completely differently with a telecom (acquisition, merger) vs manufacturing (i.e. GM, divesting itself of unprofitable divisions, casting off a stifling good-old-boy system, reinvigorating design, improving marketing, etc).

    I’m sure Lt Dan looked like a great idea at the time — let him work his magic and get the US gov’t and taxpayers its/their money back. But now that it’s obvious GM stock price is no magic wand, finger-snap quick fix, Lt Dan has to be shown the door. (Those in the building are already sweating that the damage his clueless bumbling has done on product design and planning may have already damaged the company for years in the future.)

    That said, Ford won’t let Alan leave. They’re not done with him yet, and he’s not done with them yet. He stands to make many more millions if he continues to hit his targets, and the corporation has handcuffed him contractually.

    That makes this an interesting article in terms of comparison/contrast and wishful thinking, but the real discussion is if not Lt Dan, and not Alan, who? (And Carlos is probably not avaialble either.)

  • avatar
    Steven02

    While I agree that he would be a good fit at GM, I am not sure why this article exists. Has he expressed any word that he wants to leave Ford? Ford could match any pay that GM would pay him. Ford has done well under him and has turned around. You could probably write an article that lists 100 reasons why he wouldn’t he wouldn’t want to go to GM. I understand that many people like challenges, and that would be the only reason why I would see him leaving Ford for GM… if he even can depending on his contract.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      I am not sure why this article exists.

      It’s a rant against Akerson. The Mulally angle was just a clever way for all of us to comment about a rant against Akerson. A rant that, incidentally, doesn’t discuss in any detail exactly what is wrong with Akerson.

      • 0 avatar
        MikeAR

        If you don’t mind, please let us know what is right with Akerson.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        If you don’t mind, please let us know what is right with Akerson.

        I’ve already stated that I don’t know much about him. He does seem to better than Wagoner and he has a reputation for cutting through BS, which is good if true. But whatever he is, the Coke can incident was overblown and misunderstood.

        In any case, my comment was not about Akerson but about the article, which claimed (tongue in cheek, I presume) not to be a rant against Akerson, even though it is. The Mulally angle was fun, but it should be obvious that the piece was really more about Akerson than it was about Mulally.

      • 0 avatar
        bomberpete

        You’d think Akerson is the best thing since the iPod if you’re: Obama; Tim Geithner; Steve Rattner; a big shot with Chase, Citibank, BofA, etc.; or, sold the GM IPO to gullible institutional investors at $38/share.

        If you’re a regular taxpayer, or you really care about what happens to the U.S. car industry — and most people are both — Lt. Dan is a bull (Wall Street’s symbol, right?) run amok in a china shop.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        If you’re a regular taxpayer, or you really care about what happens to the U.S. car industry — and most people are both — Lt. Dan is a bull (Wall Street’s symbol, right?) run amok in a china shop.

        That sounds terrible, indeed. But what does it mean exactly?

        I’m not defending Akerson, I haven’t bothered keeping current with his activities at GM. But it would be dandy if someone would delineate specifically what is wrong with him. (And no, don’t bring up the Coke can incident as an example, as that doesn’t make him look bad at all if you understand what he said.)

      • 0 avatar
        MikeAR

        From what I have read about Akerson, he has had a pretty much unbroken record of leaving destruction in his wake. His companies have in generally in worse shape with employees either downsized or demoralized. So far, again, from what I’ve read, he seems to be really impressed with himself at GM and has an exaggerated opinion of his skills.

      • 0 avatar
        bomberpete

        Pch101 – I’m not usually a Sweet Pete fan, and he’s bilious as hell here, but I found his take on Akerson worth a look:

        http://www.autoextremist.com/current/?currentPage=6

        I’m not with GM either; I don’t profess to really know what goes on there. But if what comes out of Ackerson’s mouth and even 15% of what DeLorenzo says is true, it’s a good indication of what’s wrong with Lt. Dan.

        Your feedback is welcome.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        I’m not usually a Sweet Pete fan…

        Nor am I. But still, Mr. De Lorenzo often manages to slip in some good points, so it’s worth listening to him, even when he’s wrong. He’s definitely right about this:

        …Akerson has it all figured out now because he’s going to position Cadillac and Chevrolet as GM’s only global brands, suggesting that Chevy “is going to be a killer brand,” for the global market but cautioning that Cadillac “isn’t ready” for that role yet, and is unlikely to be for 12 to 24 months. “You’ve got to come up with a premium brand that’s got to be global — that’s Cadillac,” Akerson told The News.

        Cadillac a global player? Please. The brand simply doesn’t have the product portfolio or international credibility to pull that off and they won’t have it for a decade at least. Yes, you read that correctly, a decade at least.

        De Lorenzo is definitely right about that. Cadillac has almost zero brand equity outside the US, and it would take both time and better cars to get it. It would have been nice if someone had called Akerson on this during the interview, rather than after the fact, but that’s the Detroit News and auto media for you.

        I can see that Akerson has a bit too much of that Lutz-like tendency to shoot off his mouth to the media, which isn’t great. On the other hand, it sounds as if he’s trying to cut out some of the excess, such as having too many engines in the lineup, and that he may be trying earnestly to kill off the vestiges of the old bureaucratic inertia-via-committee management style of the pre-BK GM by shifting power to younger executives and encouraging faster action. (Whether that’s substantive or just fluff, I don’t know.)

        This Wall Street Journal article seems fairly balanced, if a bit lacking in details: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203525404576050070062206368.html I still need to learn more and see what he does before I form much of an opinion.

  • avatar
    V16

    GM should hire Roger Penske. A proven CEO.

    • 0 avatar
      bomberpete

      That would have been great about a dozen years ago, before Red Ink Rick took over. But Penske’s 74 now. Though he’s in good health and probably still loves a daunting business challenge, think about what he’d have to give up to run GM.

  • avatar
    bomberpete

    Pch101 – I agree. You with GM?

  • avatar
    doctor olds

    Mullally may be a great leader, but he is not the super hero some seem to imagine. Ford has a very large number of others who can share the “glory”. GM, while our government still owns a stake, could not compensate Mullally nearly enough to attract him, even if they wanted to.

    Besides, General Motors is actually doing quite well from profit and sales volume perspectives.

    Just for the record:
    GM made nearly as much just in North America (around $5.7B) as Ford made globally last year (around $6.2B). Losses in Europe (around $1.6B) dragged GM’s net outside North America to a $0.5B loss, or thereabouts. GM Europe is projected to break even this year and be profitable next year. GM appears quite likely to surpass Ford’s profit this year, if these projections come to pass.

    GM is also very much larger than Ford and gaining share, selling hundreds of thousands more in America in 2011, year to date and well over 3 million more vehicles world wide last year. GM is on track to regain the #1 rank globally in 2011, projected to outsell second place VW Group by over 1,000,000 and Toyota by 2,000,000.

    I share concerns about GM losing its focus on product excellence again, but it is far too early to tell if that will come to pass.

    • 0 avatar
      Z71_Silvy

      Mullally may be a great leader, but he is not the super hero some seem to imagine.
      Be gone with you devil man!

      How dare you speak the truth about Saint Al???

      TTAC will soon be removing your comment…

  • avatar
    andyjwagner

    GM? No, we need Alan in the White House.


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