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GM talks quality and makes a promise…


I just finished watching the interview footage with Terry Woychowski, GM’s VP of Global Quality & Lauch, that ASQ posted earlier this month.

In Terry’s interview with ASQ, GM isn’t promising that they’ll exceed your expectations, but rather are being a little more cautious and simply promising you that the “product will do everything they say it will do.” It feels like they are promoting the idea that the same promise wasn’t assumed before.  And, then the consumer (or employee) wonders why not? It also seems inconsistent with their mission, which states that “GM will design, build and sell the world’s best vehicles.” It sounds like the message is that they’re going to shoot for the best, but will promise that it will at least do what we say it will.  Either way, if quality is defined as meeting or exceeding expectations, you can’t negate they have repositioned themselves into  a quality-centric organization. That’s a good thing…

That said, I do think Laurel Nelson-Rowe poses an interesting question when she asks if companies must sometimes (often? regularly?) undergo radical organizational change or substantial economic shifts to get back to rigorous quality systems? And, the answer is a resounding yes to both.  As an industry historically resistant to change, I think the U.S. auto industry is the best example of this.  Also, I don’t think “radical” organizational change is necessary on a regular basis, although the assessment of such change is.  If companies are out there scanning the environment and examining internal and external factors affecting their objectives and performance, then they will be able to make ongoing small changes as necessary for realignment.  Of course, regular strategic (macro) level assessments are necessary as well in order to determine if the objectives set remain relevant.  GM learned this the hard way.

“By failing to plan, you are preparing to fail.”  ~Benjamin Franklin

Regarding corporate culture, I think this is something that must be seen and heard.  It can’t just be words in a mission statement.  You have to feel it, both as someone working for the organization and as a consumer in general looking in from the outside.  Reinforcement of the corporate culture must be ongoing and incorporate managements’ passion, dedication and overall support.   While it all seems obvious, we also must make sure we employ the right people that fit the expected corporate culture model.  Reinforcing is much easier than reeducating.

I am rooting for GM to succeed as a leader in the industry and do see passion, dedication and overall support coming from people like Terry. I suppose the proof is in the pudding.

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