Remember the EV1, the electric car GM produced in the late nineties? It was a major technological advance and the first mass-production electric car. The EV1 also represents squandered competitive advance due to short sighted profit focused thinking. Rather than create a new market that GM would own, it abandoned it because there was insufficient demand for the car. As a monument to management’s lack of vision, GM destroyed all the vehicles!
GM’s bankruptcy in 2009 confirmed the company’s foolishness on this and many other fronts. When GM emerged from bankruptcy, I was happy. Since I love innovation, particularly green tech., when it introduced the Volt, I was excited. When it announced record profits and regained the title of world’s largest auto company, I was even happier but also concerned. Will it become intoxicated with profits, as in the past, and make more short-sighted decisions? Is temporarily halting production of the Volt a prelude to a repeat of GM history?
The American auto industry was once a source of national pride, and can be again. Cars and the freedom they provide individuals are a major part of our national culture. The industry provides thousands jobs and is a major economic contributor to our economy. If the executives of these companies were driven by national pride and the obsession to make the best cars in the world, rather than short-term profits, we would all be better off; both culturally and financially.
Therefore, GM executives… please don’t make the same mistakes of the past. National pride is at stake. Thousand of people’s jobs, homes, 401Ks and retirement income is at stake. Don’t replay history with the Volt. Don’t let short-term profits and the associated bonuses prevent you from innovating for the long-term and investing in game changing technology.
GM executives… follow the example of unconventional leaders like Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson and many others. Create unconventional organizations based on creativity, flexibility and risk-taking that innovate and build the best cars in the world.
As Walt Disney once said, “I don’t make movies to make money, I make money to make movies.” Don’t make cars to make money, make money so that you can produce the best cars in the world! When you do that, you will make profits over the long-term.