Daily Podcast: Roger Smith RIP
“Roger Smith led GM during a period of tremendous innovation in the industry. He was a leader who knew that we have to accept change, understand change and learn to make it work for us. Roger was truly a pioneer in the fast-moving global industry that we now take for granted.” You can't expect GM CEO Rick Wagoner to speak ill of the dead, but the truth is that Smith was an utter disaster for GM. In GM Death Watch 116, our own Eric Stephans wrote: "After a massive reorganization in 1984, Smith dismissed thousands of workers and began a buying spree of epic proportions. GM’s CEO spent an estimated $40b on a laundry list of fashionable solutions and distractions: NUMMI (New United Motor Manufacturing Inc.), EDS (Electronic Data Systems Corporation), Hughes Aircraft and more. GM’s culture ignored the benefits of these innovations. The Toyota-style production techniques learned at NUMMI and the union-friendly ideas implemented at Saturn’s Spring Hill plant never made it outside the factory gates. GM management remained impervious to EDS’ can-do culture. Saturn devolved into another badge-engineered GM platform brand." Today's GM owes Roger Smith a debt, but it's not one of gratitude.