Posted on Sunday, August 1, 2010
We touched a nerve recently with an op-ed in the Washington Post, if the 131 online comments, a letter to the editor, and numerous direct responses are any indication. The piece argued that the U.S. Postal Service needs to change its strategy radically if it is to avoid the fates of other icons such as Kodak and General Motors. Some agreed wholeheartedly. Some called us clueless. While we won’t spend much time defending ourselves, there a few points that we’ll make, given the liberty of these additional column inches.
Posted on Friday, June 11, 2010
Acting with surprising swiftness, General Motors has repudiated the silly decision we wrote about yesterday, the one that would have officially done away with the nickname “Chevy” and required that employees refer to the division and its products by the formal name “Chevrolet.” Good for GM.
We don’t believe for a second that the memo reported in the New York Times was simply “poorly worded” or that the memo was just a “rough draft” and “a bit of fun,” as GM said.
Posted on Thursday, June 10, 2010
The New York Times reports the stunning news that General Motors has mandated that everyone associated with its Chevrolet division stop using the term “Chevy” and always say “Chevrolet.”
This should not just be the subject of a bit of fun, though the Times certainly does have a good time with the news. It notes all the places on GM sites that use the offending term, points out the famous racecar driver who will have to change his website to take “chevy” out of the name and even reminds us that Don McLean would have to amend “American Pie” so that he’d drive his Chevrolet to the levee to find that the levee was dry.
Beyond its sheer goofiness, the decision points to a problem that causes many companies to fail when they try to innovate: They can’t get out of their own heads and think like their customers.
Posted on Tuesday, October 21, 2008
We are exceptionally sympathetic to the plight of General Motors. In researching 2,500 business failures over the past 25 years for our recent book, “Billion-Dollar Lessons,” we rarely came across an industry that faced as many challenges as the auto industry—and that was before the spike in gasoline prices turned car buyers away from GM’s profitable SUVs and the onset of current economic crisis dried up credit and forced potential customers to put their wallets away.
Given the onslaught from so many fronts, it’s hard to see what the right answer is for GM. It is, however, easier to identify wrong answers, and our research suggests strongly that acquiring Chrysler would be a disaster.