By on December 10, 2009

Where YOU at?

It’s easy to blame GM’s new Chairman and CEO’s recent webchat performance on the format. Webchats invariably combine the awkward claustrophobia of conference calls with the eloquent clarity of text-messaging, for a match made in communication hell. That’s no place to properly explain what the NSFW is going on with your company. Especially when you have yet to comment on the “Opel drama,” “palace coup,” “tilt-a-executive,” and “getting in bed with the Chinese” storylines (among others). Needless to say, the MSM is not amused. Nor, frankly, am I. Which is why today’s quote of the day is actually nine days old.

I promise all of you we’ll make ourselves available in the next few days to spend more time with you answering questions. And I know you must have a lot of them

Nearly ten days later now, Whitacre’s only attempt to make good on his promise was the webchat, which might best be summarized in the following exchange:

Details? Even by webchat standards, that’s not even trying. Or has Maximum Bob been advising Whitacre on how to “exercise enormous skill in the non-answering of questions?” If so, it’s a questionable strategy for the new CEO of a 61 percent government-owned company. Sure, Whitacre talks to the government “about once a week,” but he has yet to explain his vision to the American public that made his expensive executive escapade possible.

Oh yeah, and that he’s counting on to buy his vehicles. :-)

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18 Comments on “Quote Of The Day: Earth To Ed Whitacre Edition...”

  • avatar

    Perhaps he’s practicing  non responsive answers for the next time GM execs are called on the carpet by a congressional sub-committee.

  • avatar

    As long as he keeps firing people I don’t like, he’s okay in my book.

  • avatar

    Whitacre is James Roche all over again, only without the lack of political connections.
    He has no idea what sells cars, nor does he care.  He is in it for his own glory, and could care less about the customer, the car, or the company.
    He is, in short, about what Obama is for the nation – and then that would explain his presence at Government Motors.
    The guy is a loser, in front of a company destined to lose.
    He is, however, certainly in the thrall of the UAW, whose preservation is the one reason that he was given this job – by the President who bows to the UAW.
    Whitacre can, of course, prove me wrong by making the UAW actually give up and start being productive.  But, that wouldn’t work, because the sole reason that GM still exists is to feed that union tax dollars.
    Don’t expect anything from Whitacre, except a sucking sound on your tax dollars.

    • 0 avatar

      I am seriously confused by your comments.  How can he been it it for his own glory if he doesn’t care about the company?  How would it be glorious to run it into the ground as you suggest?  He doesn’t need this job.  He wants the challenge.  That means he wants the company to succeed, which means he has to care about the company, cars, and the customer.
      To do this, he doesn’t need to know how to sell cars.  Let me rephrase that, he doesn’t need to even learn how to sell cars.  He is chairman of the board and now interm CEO.  What he needs to do is hold people accountable for their actions.  To help better explain my point, do you think the CIO of a company knows how to troubleshoot IT problems?  No, that person is in charge or running the IT department and setting the course.  He job is to guide the company as interm CEO and as chairman of the board, find that new CEO.
      Your comments about the UAW and Obama are really off base.  Whitacre needing to “make the UAW actually give up and start being productive” shows how really you have no clue as to what is going on.  I am no UAW fan.  There were a big reason, but by far, not the only reason GM went into bankruptcy.  But right now, the UAW is the least of Whitacre’s problems.  Whitacre needs to find people who will increase market share and make GM profitable.  Nothing else.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Bring Back Fritz!
    Bring Back Rick!
    Uh, wait, no, don’t do that.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    To those who have somehow convinced themselves that Whitacre is an Obama guy in the pockets of the UAW, I suggest that you take the time to look at the public record of who the guy has given campaign contributions to.
    Mostly Republicans, including McCain/Palin in the most recent Presidential race. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but not to their own facts.

    • 0 avatar

      “Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but not to their own facts.”

      Best quote I’ve heard in a long time.  (So many people have lost sight of this, that they now seem to weigh informed and uninformed opinions equally.)

  • avatar

    It’s cold in the conference room? Someone tell GM to save money on the stimulants in the exec coffee and spend a bit more on heating.

  • avatar

    The means of communication can have a whale of an impact on the clarity of the communication.  Only Winston Churchhill was really good at communicating massive meaning with minimal words.  At a time when GM is playing a game of wack-a-mole with executives, having at least one top guy speaking clearly and consistently would help.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    The idea of a web chat with a person of large responsibility is a huge disaster in waiting. I figured this out, as did zillions of content professionals, about a dozen years ago when “chat” was in it’s MySpace moment.

    That GM is still doing this scares me.

  • avatar

    These are funny.  No, really, they’re brilliant moments of reporter-baiting bordering on subtle insults, and a whole lot more amusing than the prevarication, non-answers and n0 comments we’re used to getting.  They’re not open, factual or transparent, but at least they’re not mealy-mouthed.  Which is an improvement.  Sort of.
    I would love to hear his answer to Farago’s “What about your pension?”.

  • avatar

    I don’t see what the big fuss is about.  Yes, GM needs to find people to fix things.  He has fired several people and looking to hire the replacements.  My guess is that finding the replacements and getting them up to speed is a little be more important than talking to the press.

  • avatar

    FYI   Productivty at UAW/CAW auto plants are at a par or better than the transplants. Wages and benifits are within 10%.

    Steven02 has it correct, with the drasticly reduced UAW on ice for a few years,and a shadow of its former self,the boss has bigger fish to fry.

     I always  kind’a liked Fritz. When he was on a plant tours he would stop and talk to the people on the floor. But being a nice guy didn’t cut it,and Mr Whitacre  has had to make some tough calls.

     If that’s what it takes to keep the company and my pension alive. Go get e’m Ed.

  • avatar

    “Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but not to their own facts.”

    Uhh, apparently you have yet to read the Sarah Palin book.  Discredited by her own insiders, emails she wrote,  things published all over the place by both sides…
    The crowds that show up for her little book signings prove beyond a Rush Limbaugh of doubt that you should never let the facts get in the way of a ridiculous story.  

  • avatar

    Guys, welcome to the Brave New World. No exec and and I mean NO exec is going to say diddly squat without it being checked eight ways from Sunday by PR and Legal. Both the courts and the SEC have come down hard on anybody that has had any conversation that might “lead to material effects to the share price” considering it to be insider info if it isn’t disseminated as a press release.

    Sad but reality. So don’t expect any relevant off the cuff comments that might show anyone’s hand. Ain’t gonna happen.

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