GM’s Middle Managers Plight: Ruined Brands

If the article at the New York Times about GM’s shaky future is right, the company faces almost the same fate whether it takes the bailout or bankruptcy root – massive restructuring as GM dwindles in size and employment to a diminished image of itself. Many of GM’s VPs and middle managers are already without jobs and more are sure to follow. This raises the question of what those managers could or should have done 5-10 years ago when the company continued to pursue a strategy of SUV+Big Trucks  plus only token eforts to make quality of finished product(lots of JD Power results here) and fuel economy  in the face of mounting signs that the market was already turning that way.

 In effect I am asking what do middle to high managers do when their company’s Executive Suite appears to be selling their hard earned Brand short?  They can push for a realignment of the Brand with their company’s new practices. But clearly as  response and cycle  times in  competitive markets become ever shorter , managers cannot afford to let their Executive Suites ‘miss the boat’. They will be the first to be slipped pink.  Yet there is not a lot those managers can do. Being the correct but headless bearer of bad news is not exactly a career enhancing option. Rather, what these mangers need are independent assessments from 3rd party sources that raise the needed fundamental questions in public fora. This eliminates the McKinsey’s and the Booz’s because they are the epitome of discretion. And the Financial Press can be either very tardy (wow that Business Week article was hard hitting but just 2 months prior to bankruptcy) or hit and miss(“wow are they really for or against our new counter culture strategy?”).

 Now of course, all well run companies do customer satisfaction surveys and deep analysis – but somehow those got misplaced in the case of GM and the other American automotive firms.  So from time to time, will do an analysis of a firm that is in the process of ruining their Brand. And what better time to proceed with such an  analysis than now.

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