Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Have You De-Committed?

Rick Wagoner, Chairman and CEO of General Motors was interviewed recently by Charlie Rose. The whole interview was worth a quote near the end of the hour. When Charlie Rose pushed him to shed some insight on the critical error that GM has made over the years, Mr. Wagoner replied, "The day you de-commit to producing the best product, you are losing ground." He could have gone on to state the obvious which is that once you start losing ground, it is really hard to get back in the game.

How do we de-commit? Is it our attitudes? our actions? our inactions? I would say yes to all of these. Is it our commitment? I would say not so much. Is it our vision or lack of vision? Is it leadership? In my estimation and experience, there are many committed people in organizations that work diligently, but often toward the wrong goal. Maybe a better way to say it is that too often they work toward a goal and not a vision.

Rick Wagoner explained in many ways that GM lost touch with its customers. He says you can have the best product in the world but your company will fail if customers do not want to buy it. "If you don't have the best product, you will not be here in the long haul," he said. And, he added that today's best product will not be tomorrow's best product. You have to innovate and be thinking about your customer's needs and desires five years from now. In other words, you have to work at staying relevant and designing all things around that. And, you have to be timely. It will be interesting to watch along with the world to see if GMs liquidity will stretch to cover its innovation (product to market) cycle.

What do your customers want and expect from your organization?
What changes in the current marketplace must you consider and design into your ethos?
What is the value-added that you offer?
Are you relevant, giving your customer what they want and need in the way they want to receive it?
Would your customers recommend you to others?
Is innovation a part of your culture?

No business, regardless of the industry, is immune from this analytical framework.

No comments: