GM's Casual Culture Club

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

Like a highschooler puffing on its first joint, GM’s embattled corporate culture is sure it can feel something changing, and it’s eager to share its fresh perspective on itself. As with the allegorical proto-stoner however, when the need to appear altered is more important than an honest journey of self-discovery, strange hilarity ensues. To wit, this tidbit from the WSJ’s Bankruptcy Beat Blog:

“As we work to create the New GM with a new culture that includes personal accountability, our existing dress code seems outdated,” Mary Barra, GM’s vice president of global human resources, wrote in an employee memo earlier this month, according to the newspaper. “Going forward, our dress code policy is ‘Dress appropriately.’”

After giving its balance sheet a makeover in bankruptcy, it seems the company is finally ready for a cultural revamp too. It’s renaming its conference rooms – anyone up for a meeting in the “Groovy Room” or the “Zen Room?” – in an effort to promote risk-taking.

All of which leads to at least one troubling question: what is “appropriate” attire for a meeting held in the “Groovy Room?” I mean, how much “risk taking” are we talking about promoting? Also, as this video from a year ago proves, casual dress at GM was Rick Wagoner’s idea… sort of.

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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  • Psarhjinian Psarhjinian on Dec 01, 2009
    OTOH, watching how engineers now dress themselves without HR guidance could be more fun than I always found it interesting how, even on casual days, HR and (especially) Marketing always looked better dressed, on average, than F&A or IT could on every other day of the week.
    • See 1 previous
    • Psarhjinian Psarhjinian on Dec 01, 2009

      You slept under your desks? You had it easy. We slept in the hot aisle between the racks in the datacentre, and we were glad of it.

  • Joe Chiaramonte Joe Chiaramonte on Dec 01, 2009

    As the GM culture will truly never change, thus maintaining the need to endlessly suffer Death By Meetings, I'd suggest they rename their countless meeting rooms after all of the neglected models and brands which died at the hands of beancounters and multi-layered management. Oops - gotta go: We have a four-hour all-hands in the Nomad Auditorium. Gotta grab some coffee and No-Doz first.

  • JSF22 JSF22 on Dec 01, 2009

    Exhibit 3,017 in the list of reasons GM will not exist in five years: a "vice president of global human resources" who issues memos about what people wear (no doubt after endless meetings to discuss and redraft). Susan Docherty can waltz in wearing nothing but Saran Wrap for all I care - there's no way I'm buying anything that looks like a LaCrosse from the shithole they call a dealer in my town. There has not been one scintilla of evidence that GM has changed one single thing that actually matters.

    • Car_czar Car_czar on Dec 01, 2009

      "There has not been one scintilla of evidence that GM has changed one single thing that actually matters." Other than a dramatic downsizing, reworking the union contract, replacing virtually all the top management, eliminating poorly performing brands and dealers.... Hmm, yeah, I guess you're right - not one single thing that matters has changed!!

  • Boff Boff on Dec 01, 2009

    Awesome allegory. Iffy thesis.