Who Almost Killed the Car Companies?

The period between 2005 and 2010, saw major U.S. car manufacturers hit a slump. From poor designs and lack of efficiency, one wonders what went wrong. The composition of these companies suggest that ideas / innovation never percolated (even the most obvious) and thus impacting company performance over the long time. The tumbling stock prices were just a symptom.



During the 2008 financial crisis, Ford took out a loan from the Government (Chrysler & GM were bankrupt). One of the leading features of Ford’s leadership is that as much as there were changes on the board and in the executive leadership, there was a core group of individuals who remained at the core (including the Ford family trusts). Ford seems to have refocused itself on building the future of the company much faster than the other car companies.


Much of the board at General Motors held several board seats in other companies, had reciprocal seats (several members shared the same boards) and didn’t seem to have a grip on the inefficiencies that were caused by territorial engineering leaderships. This played in out in the lack of product ownership and the several layers of bureaucracy that seem to pit management that had rose up the ranks from the floor to more business-types who had joined the firm as either their first job from business school and also from the engineering talent that ran some of the siloed product lines.