We talk a lot about global platforms and global powertrains, but the truly global corporation is much stronger in idea than in practice. General Motors CEO Dan Akerson is the latest to take a stab at creating a truly international company, preparing to stir up the entire organization with sweeping mission statements like "We've got to get this company and its culture into the 21st century," and "We need to take the bureaucracy out of the business."

According to a report from TheDetroitBureau.com, Akerson's issue is that GM operates in "legal entities," "fiefdoms" and silos of regional authority that don't make the most of the company or its brands. According to insiders, Akerson is planning a massive reorganization that would create global leadership in areas like purchasing and product development, to go along with those positions that already exist for marketing and design. The aim is to let the company focus on getting good products out instead of attending meetings, getting approvals and making plans.

More practical implementations of the restructuring would be instituting a new accounting system so that it can better track sales by country and a new information technology system to replace the one that lost track of who was working on what. Akerson's also got an eye on rationalizing parts, apparently, wanting to reduce the wild variety in common parts used by the company's brands. For example, The Detroit News notes that GM employs 30 different door latches across its models – rival Toyota only has five.

There doesn't appear to be anyone who thinks the idea of a complete overhaul, where top-down meets ground-up, is a bad thing for GM to do. Analysts do caution, however, that this is a task GM has tried before, and in addition to its inherent difficulty, it's probably easier to get wrong than get totally right. But Akerson sees it as his "patriotic duty" to fix GM, and as everyone else would probably also admit, it's better than doing nothing.


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  • 68 Comments
      Chip
      • 2 Years Ago
      Honestly, how many times have we read this over the past 30 years? I've lost count. Look, I'm a GM fan - have had mostly GM cars in my stable over the years-but there seems to be a massive restructuring of some kind that takes place about every 10 years. Who knows, maybe this time they mean it.
      IBx27
      • 2 Years Ago
      Headed for another big overhaul? I certainly hope so. The CEO is a joke and has to go before he ruins the rest of the company.
      richard gear
      • 2 Years Ago
      Petronius Arbiter : "We trained hard, but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams, we would be reorganized. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization."
        richard gear
        • 2 Years Ago
        @richard gear
        This was written 2,000 years ago, when GM consolidated it's brands to for GM.
      Matthew Dawson
      • 2 Years Ago
      Bureaucracy can absolutely be a problem with GM. As can be having many redundant platforms and technologies. And it is a good idea to try and reduce both of those things. After all, doing so was one of the factors that helped Chrysler turn around in the early 90s. And Ford did similar things with Mulally in the early 00s. But this kind of thing can be bungled horribly. Because the last time GM tried something like this, it was during the chairmanship of someone named Roger Smith. And in many ways, GM is still trying to shake off the reputation it gained during that era. So, needless to say, this announcement makes me nervous.
      design eye
      • 2 Years Ago
      I don't get it! Purchasing and product development have been global for years now. 40 steering wheels have become 9, 30 different black colors have become one. Every component has been vetted for complexity reduction and redundancy. Leather standards have been unified, bringing the best quality to all markets. Global platforms have have resulted in global cars. There's a record of major restructurings that have brought efficiencies in NA, and then Globally for the last 12 years. What is Akerson talking about? He needs to be giving credit to the efforts already made and the sacrifices to get there.
      Camaroman101
      • 2 Years Ago
      they need a fast and cool compact car. Cruze SS? Sonic SS?or a 200+ hp version of the code 130r and true 140s that and the 250hp Verano should be fitted with new bumpers to look like a mini Regal GS
      Peter Foglia
      • 2 Years Ago
      Add to this that I heard GM is planning to move a lot of its engineering operatons to CHINA in the near future. Gee I'm glad we taxpayers made that loan to "save" GM and assure its employees a future here.
        tylermars.design
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Peter Foglia
        Facepalm. You have no idea what you are talking about.
        Brandon Allen
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Peter Foglia
        ...We want more export business so we have to expand to other markets. We let Honda, Toyota, BMW, VW (See the post directly below this article on the AB home Page) come to our shores to engineer, develop and produce cars and you cry fowl when we do the same? You're an idiot.
        Austin Too
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Peter Foglia
        Please cite your source, but I'm betting you don't have one for something that is not true. That's not to say that GM won't set up a regional tech center, just as the Japanese, Koreans, and some Europeans have in the U.S.
      nsxrules
      • 2 Years Ago
      Akerson you want to save the failing GM? Do what Ford did, step down and hire a competent CEO like Mullaly. With Akerson at the helm (one of the most incompetent CEO's in the auto industry today) GM is doomed.
      ishmaelcrowley
      • 2 Years Ago
      I still don't understand why they got rid of Bob Lutz. He helped make competitive exciting vehicles. Why get rid of him?
        Camaroman101
        • 2 Years Ago
        @ishmaelcrowley
        i think he still works for them but only as a consultant. did he quit/retire or was he let go?
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      oollyoumn
      • 2 Years Ago
      I heard Akerson recently stated that GM cars are not competitive and that their engines and transmissions lag the competition. There is no surprise is the content, only that the CEO is willing to admit it. Maybe there is hope for better products in the future. Currently there are no cars in GM's lot that make my short list, but there may still be hope for some day.
        sp33dklz
        • 2 Years Ago
        @oollyoumn
        I couldn't agree more. While I would consider one of their trucks should I need one, the F-150 would probably make the cut for me based on it's Ecoboost engine. Their cars fit a specific buyer's pool. They are not broad enough to fit my tastes (exception is the CTS/ATS). While I realize that I'm not the only demographic, it seems as though their cars cater to the NASCAR crowd.
          Dark Gnat
          • 2 Years Ago
          @sp33dklz
          Which is ironic because the car that's currently being raced is nothing like the production version, which is fwd. That will change next year though.
      Jason Krumvieda
      • 2 Years Ago
      I hope that they focus on good products and not the management teams behind the products. He should take business advice from Obama, that guy was an amazing business man before becoming president. Wait...what was that...he was a community organizer? What do they do? Not manage businesses? How do they make money....people just give them money? People should just give GM money because they are an American business and we need them because they employ other people. Wait...what was that....we already did that..this argument sucks.
        untitledfolder
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jason Krumvieda
        This argument does suck. It just seems like you're spewing ad hominems left and right. Learn critical thinking 101 and what a logical fallacy is before trying to make everything political.
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