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Synopsis

“One of the most acute books about management and how com­panies work in practice that I have read in a long time. If anyone wants to know exactly how the U.S. auto industry got into trou­ble, here is your guide.”
—John Gapper, FINANCIAL TIMES

When Bob Lutz got into the auto business in the early 1960s, CEOs knew that if you captured the public’s imagination with innovative car design and top-quality crafts­manship, the money would follow. The “car guys” held sway, and GM dominated with bold, creative leadership and iconic brands like Cadillac, Buick, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, GMC, and Chevrolet.

But then GM’s leadership began to put its faith in numbers and spreadsheets. Determined to eliminate the “waste” and “personality worship” of the bygone creative leaders, management got too smart for its own good. With the bean counters firmly in charge, carmakers, and much of American industry, lost their single-minded focus on product excellence and their competitive advantage. Decline soon followed.

In 2001, General Motors hired Lutz out of retirement with a mandate to save the company by making great cars again. As vice chairman, he launched a war against the penny-pinching number crunchers who ran the company by the bottom line and reinstated a focus on creativity, design, and cars and trucks that would satisfy GM’s customers.

Lutz’s commonsense lessons, combined with a generous helping of fascinating anecdotes, will inspire readers in any industry.


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