Monthly Archives: February 2007

Daimler-Chrysler Wants a Divorce. Shocking.

We now have the news that Daimler-Chrysler wants a divorce. Shocking.

One more stupid merger falls apart because the people couldn’t get along. The Germans thought Detroit built crappy cars, and the Chrysler folk thought the Mercedes men dissed them. The hapless Dr. Z commercials were so discordant with American sensibilities even Beyoncé hood ornaments could not have saved the lines.

About the only way GM could buy Chrysler would be to trade its interest in Delphi for it. Marrying Ford and Chrysler would be a match between Alzheimer patients. Toyota needs Chrysler like it needs a UAW contract, and Carlos Ghosn now has a toothache at Renault.

Chrysler is as sick as a metropolitan newspaper, which means that there are buyers on Wall Street who smell blood and money, but not in Autoland. Kirk Kerkorian might resurface for a Chrysler redux, but at 90-years-old with his slots at MGM just spewing money, what does he need Chrysler’s misery for?

If Dieter Zietsche and his comrades are willing to take the hit, Chrysler will be sold to a hedge fund willing to stare down the UAW in the upcoming contract negotiations. This could mean a long strike like Goodyear recently weathered. I think Daimler has no stomach for this kind of war, so they will probably bail out quickly.

Some shrewd and gutsy people will step up for the minivan, Jeep and Dodge truck franchises. Chrysler is not a basket case yet, but the sooner the Daimler Dandies head back to Stuttgart the better.

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Lovie and Tony's Coaching Styles

Tony Dungy, the coach of the Indianapolis Colts, and Lovie Smith, coach of the Chicago Bears, are close personal friends who talk to each other at 5:00 a.m. every Monday morning during the NFL regular season. They are also the this year’s two Super Bowl Coaches.

The parallels between the management styles of the first two black coaches to run teams in the BIG GAME are suggestive of important shifts in business management at this point in American history.

Dungy and Smith are both soft spoken, religious, Christian men. They deflect personal notoriety and celebrity and both continually praise their players in public. They both stress defense and defer to their coordinators and in Dungy’s case the star quarterback Peyton Manning. They play the Cover Two defense, which is a complicated hybrid of the Man to Man and Zone approach in the secondary to defend the pass.

These men have risen to the peak of their profession while the egotistical coaches of the Bill Parcells, Tom Coughlin, Dennis Green model have been unable to mold cohesive, confident, winning teams in recent years. In a league where 70 percent of the players are young and black with a lot of spending money and huge visibility, these strong fatherly quiet men have built accountability into their systems.

The NFL has a rigid salary cap and a sacrosanct draft which builds parity of personnel. This makes coaching and talent evaluation the great unleveler. The New England Patriots have defied the equalizing momentum each year because Bill Belichick, another self effacing coach, remolds a great team year after year. The coach is the great variable in pro football and deserves to be paid as much of more than the star players.

Games are won consistently in the NFL because one team buckles at a critical moment. The quarterback is the most important player, but many teams win with a mediocre quarterback, the Bears being a prominent example.

The Smith and Dungy coaching model; emphasizing defense, speed and accountability while reducing the visibility of the “Star Coach” can teach us a lot about successful leadership today.

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