Not much to be learned from Fortune's current cover story, "Can GM Survive?", like for instance details on the "New GM's" turnaround strategy. But I enjoyed this GM anecdote from Fortune's veteran auto reporter, Alex Taylor III:
"If you want to understand how the old General Motors stumbled for 30 years until it collapsed into bankruptcy, consider the story of GoFast.
"GoFast was a program started in 2000 by Rick Wagoner, then the company's president (and later CEO), to untangle bureaucracy. The idea was simple: When negotiations over an issue reached an impasse, all the interested parties would be put together in one room until they agreed on a decision. Human resources was assigned to spread GoFast through the company. It trained GoFast coaches, arranged thousands of GoFast workshops, staged GoFast feedback sessions, and distributed GoFast coffee mugs. At one point, GM claimed savings of more than $500 million from GoFast.
"But the program took on a life of its own. GoFast workshops were held to eliminate other meetings; eventually the number of workshops reached more than 7,000. In other words, GM held more than 7,000 meetings to discuss how it could hold fewer meetings. Managers might see their performance evaluations downgraded because they weren't holding enough GoFast meetings. "The whole premise of GoFast became going slow," complained one executive.
"Don't expect to see many more GoFasts under Fritz Henderson, the man who succeeded Wagoner as CEO last March. [Wagoner, of course, was sacked by Barack Obama.] It 'wasn't helpful for decision-making,' he says."
From Fortune's Oct. 12 edition, not yet online.
[ed.- With apologies to the Bard, Henry VI, Part II.]