By Noah Graff
What would a new management team do to change the fortunes of GM if Rick Wagoner and his team were ousted? Can a new management team improve the company significantly, right away? Perhaps a high profile replacement would give a quick jolt to the company’s stock price, but would GM quickly start selling more cars and building better cars?
Since Wagoner became GM’s CEO in 2000, the company has gained big concessions from the UAW, which had handcuffed the company while Toyota, Honda, and the other imports enjoyed freedom from union regulations. GM came out with the award-winning Malibu. Buick became the most coveted car brand in China. The company became leaner, closing plants and laying off workers.
Yet still, today the company is in major debt, pleading for money from the government while even Ford has avoided the utter desperation of its American foe under the leadership of Allan Mulally, former CEO of Boeing.
It’s difficult to know how much of GM’s turmoil is to be blamed on poor decisions by Wagoner. It’s difficult to know what positive influences he has had on the company. Maybe with a different person at the helm the company would already be bankrupt. It’s impossible to know how much impact one person can have in a short time.
The $36 billion question is: what could a new CEO do to improve GM in the short-term and long-term that Wagoner wouldn’t do? Or, would a new CEO make matters worse at the company?
Could former GE CEO, Jack Welsh, be the man for the job?