Steve Rattner, the former car czar in the Obama administration who was directly responsible for forcing Rick Wagoner out as GM’s CEO, has written a piece in Fortune that is getting a great deal of coverage. In a word Rattner, who was not a car industry specialist, depicts GM’s management and Rick Wagoner as follows:
In my relatively few interactions with chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner, I found him to be likable, dedicated, and generally knowledgeable. But Rick set a tone of “friendly arrogance” that seemed to permeate the organization.
Certainly Rick and his team seemed to believe that virtually all of their problems could be laid at the feet of some combination of the financial crisis, oil prices, the yen-dollar exchange rate, and the UAW.
It seemed completely obvious to us that any management team that had burned through $21 billion of cash in a year and another $13 billion in the first quarter of 2009 could not be allowed to continue. Equally important, GM’s February viability plan was more “business as usual” and not the aggressive new approach that we felt was essential.
There is nothing all that surprising in the story but rather it was just depressing. Let’s hope GM and other firms with similar problems can use the article as a means for making some real changes to make their respective companies and management more competitive.