Good service must not follow GM's road to ruin
guardian.co.uk - UK
Peter Drucker, the discipline's first and most respected chronicler, wrote the seminal Concept of the Corporation after observing the company for two years ...
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Good service must not follow GM's road to ruin
The latter, ironically, was supposed to be the future, a weightless economic and employment successor to limping manufacturing. Only it wasn't. Meet the new economy, same as the old one except on steroids, which just intensify rather than dampen down the destructive effects.
GM's demise comes after the longest death scene in history. Its heyday was the postwar period up to the 1970s, when, to a degree unmatched before or since, this one company was management. Peter Drucker, the discipline's first and most respected chronicler, wrote the seminal Concept of the Corporation after observing the company for two years in the 1950s, and its pioneering multidivisional structure - with a separate division corresponding to each market segment, from Chevrolet to Cadillac - had a huge influence on the shape of other large firms.
In contrast to the maverick entrepreneur Henry Ford, who had little time (or need) for management, GM was the embodiment of what the great historian Alfred Chandler dubbed "the visible hand" - the revolution that substituted rational administrative co-ordination for market forces to drive productivity up and costs down systematically. In the 1950s, GM was the biggest and most successful company in the world.
But its days were numbered as the car industry became global and world supply started to outstrip demand. GM's formula took Ford's mass production to new heights. It built so many cars so cheaply that even if they weren't what buyers really wanted, it could shift them by cutting prices and advertising heavily. But just as GM had undercut Ford's management model, GM's was destroyed. Japanese companies figured out how to make cars in small quantities equally cheaply and of higher quality; and, being much more attuned to what customers wanted, they rarely had to discount to get rid of surplus inventory. Economies of flow and market pull replaced economies of scale and marketing push.
Since the decline really set in during the 1980s, GM has staggered from one crisis to another. Automation, changes at the top, new brands - nothing has turned the tide; some of its brands now have negative value. But this is not surprising: GM's management model is as obsolete as fins, chrome and whitewall tyres. It has been kept on the road only because, like the banks, it was too big to be allowed to run off it.
All companies are collections of subsystems within a bigger one, which in turn operates within the ecology of the market as a whole. At its height in the 1950s and 1960s, GM's parts all worked in harmony with the market. Since then, the market has radically altered, and the set of accountabilities that worked in the past has driven them ever further in the wrong direction. Neither the parts nor the whole are now functional, and a small GM is a contradiction in terms; barring a miracle, the only future for the surviving marques (probably Cadillac and Chevrolet) will, like Opel and Vauxhall, be in the bosom of an acquirer.
It would be nice to think that with its chief protagonist humbled, the GM management model could be buried, the page turned and a new one started. Unfortunately, it has developed a potent half-life in the services sector. With the development of computers and the internet, financial services and communications companies have been sold a vision of services mass-produced like consumer products, with a virtual supply chain linking low-cost suppliers around the globe.
Alas, the template is usually pure GM. The emphasis on economies of scale and low transaction costs achieved through specialisation and standardisation exactly parallels the obsessions of the bankrupt US carmaker. The result is white-collar factories like HM Revenue and Customs, the Department for Work and Pensions and the Probation Service, which are as inflexible, error-prone and customer-unfriendly as any car assembly plant.
But the mass-production analogy is false. Services can and should be systematised, not industrialised. The idea of mass production leads up a blind alley back to the past. The wide variety of service demand means that the standardise-specialise-automate formula can't work. Services can be produced economically, but they need well-organised humans, not computers, to do it.
Services are the most likely place to develop a post-industrial management model, one that is more sensitive to customers than mass production, more responsible than the financial services industry, and less wasteful than either. To do that, though, the first imperative is to dismantle the legacy of GM. RIP.
Out of the depths. The first words of Psalm cxxx - Vulgate.
De profundis (dā prōfūn'dēs) [Lat.,=from the depths], the opening words of Psalm 130, one of the penitential Psalms, in Jerome's Latin version (see Vulgate); also used as a title for the Psalm.
"Levi Strauss 法國的 "社會人類學研究所" 是 社會學加上人類學 嗎?"--我之所以問此 因為其中文文集中他的致中文讀者如此說 很奇怪
昨天碰到葉老師 他告訴我 social/cultural anthropology為英美別
(born Nov. 28, 1908, Brussels, Belg.) Belgian-French social anthropologist and leading exponent of structuralism.
Lévi-Strauss was named to a chair in Social Anthropology at the Collège de France in 1959.
Wikipedia article "Claude Lévi-Strauss". At roughly the same time he published Structural Anthropology, a collection of his essays which provided both examples and programmatic statements about structuralism. At the same time as he was laying the groundwork for an intellectual program, he began a series of institutions for establishing anthropology as a discipline in France, including the Laboratory for Social Anthropology where new students could be trained, and a new journal, l'Homme, for publishing the results of their research.
Britannica Concise Encyclopedia: cultural anthropology
"阿斯達克財經網 - Hong Kong
的聯營樂依文宣布，已根據與持有2011年到期9. 25厘優先票據若干持有人， 以及貸方於今年3月2日訂立延期償付協議， 獲額外延期償付期30天，至7月1日屆滿。 品質指出，樂依文若未能維持其資金水平或遭受嚴峻財務困難， 公司銷售經營、整體業績及 ..."
"卡拉OK和部落格"有點意思 譬如說 五音不全的我可能"語無倫次"
可是可能還有些"不同世界"的差異 譬如 我倆沒合唱過"卡拉OK" 我卻看過"妳"們的部落格 雖然沒"看到" 你的許多"神思"
“We must eat a peck of salt with a friend before we know them.” –Cervantes 另外說法是蘇格蘭諺語--這是Herbert Simon在 Models of Thought (Volume I) 的引言
Lessons from the rise and fall of a carmaker
By John Kay
Published: June 3 2009 03:00 | Last updated: June 3 2009 03:00
General Motors is stumbling towards oblivion. The failing giant was the iconic corporation of the 20th century. It implemented mass production, created the idea of professional management and defined a structure for the diversified industrial corporation. These features of our industrial landscape, today obvious and inevitable, were novelties a century ago.
At one FT breakfast, we debated which were the most important business books ever published. I nominated three. Peter Drucker's Concept of the Corporation pioneered the intellectually rigorous analysis of management issues. Alfred Sloan's My Years at General Motors is the most thoughtful business autobiography. Alfred Chandler's Strategy and Structure turned business history and corporate strategy into academic disciplines. Only then did I notice that all were about GM. The history of modern business is the history of GM, and vice versa.
Adam Smith saw that the division of labour was the key to prosperity and economic growth. Frederick Taylor translated the division of labour into what he called "scientific management". Everyone would be assigned a discrete task whose performance could be precisely measured. Henry Ford made these theoretical concepts a practical reality. On an assembly line, barely skilled workers would be employed to manufacture cars.
Ford's mass production was quickly imitated, and in the 1920s his company was overtaken by its principal rival. The contrast in the names of these organisations - General Motors versus the Ford Motor Company - tells you most of what you need to know. Ford was the creation of an idiosyncratic, irascible genius. The genius of Sloan was to create a company that did not depend on any particular individuals.
Drucker shadowed Sloan for almost two years, but relations between the two deteriorated. Drucker commented acerbically that Sloan's book should have been called GM While I Was There. Sloan's personality rarely intruded because his view of management allowed little role for personality.
GM emerged from a collection of businesses thrown together by the entrepreneurial Billy Durant. Durant's ambitions ran ahead of his capacity to manage large and complex businesses - a theme often repeated. Sloan gave structure to the conglomerate Durant created, as Chandler explained. Chandler's vision was that professional managers would make diversified businesses efficient through decentralisation. The centre's role was to monitor and direct strategy through a focused range of controls.
By the 1950s GM was the most successful company in world history. Yet the globalisation of world markets became the source of this giant corporation's downfall. Consumers became more discriminating and other firms were able to deploy narrower competitive advantages on a world scale. GM's share of world car sales peaked and began a long, steady decline.
The factors that had once been the company's strengths were now weaknesses. Mass production and piece-rate incentives created a workforce with little pride in the quality of the product. The cadre of professional managers became a complacent, inward-looking bureaucracy. The diversified corporation became a collection of competing baronies.
The decline of GM is as instructive as its rise. Mass production is now an activity for low-income, low-cost locations. Successful western carmakers will focus on market niches. Fordism and Taylorism, in which pay is closely related to individual performance, has had similarly dire effects on overall corporate performance - about which no one really cares - when applied to assembly lines, boardrooms and trading floors. The challenge of how to reconcile professional management with a culture of innovation remains for ever a central issue for management thinkers.
If the success of GM defined the management agenda for the 20th century, its failure equally defines the management agenda for the 21st.
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2009
中評網2日社評:世界衛生組織日前宣佈全球感染甲型H1N1流感患者已升至15510人，死亡病例為99例。的中國大陸以及港澳台問題不算嚴重，至6月1 日總共確認68個個案，與美國的感染7927人死15人、墨西哥的感染5029人死97人、加拿大的感染1336人死2人相比，日本的感染370人相比， 中國大陸以及港澳台實屬萬幸。而之所以能夠將嚴重疫情抵制以外，最根本的原因是嚴密防控。此擧曾引起了美國等西方輿論的不耐煩，指責中國反應過度的聲音時 有所聞。在此，我們要強調，不要指責，中國防疫決心不會改變。
不久前西方媒體報道說，美國西東大學衛生問題研究中心主任黃嚴中認為，雖然中國對豬流感採取的檢疫隔離措施，反映北京當局意識到隱瞞疫情只會帶 來反效果，但同時亦反映他們未能分辨出當前的新病毒，在致病性與傳染能力方面，與沙士病毒到底有何分別。黃嚴中指出，中國採取的措施不但損害了與別國的關 係，也損害了本來就受挫的經濟，令豬肉價格因民眾擔心豬肉安全而顯著下跌。華盛頓布魯金斯學會中國研究學者李成則批評中國反應過度：“中國領導人不明白為 甚麽需要避免反應過度，他們完全不瞭解外國媒體與外國公眾輿論。”
第一，關於不了解疫情的問題。對甲型H1N1流感疫情性質的判斷，不是中國自己制定或者認定的，中國是完全接受世衛組織的指引辦事的。世界衛生 組織4月29日晚在日內瓦宣布，全球流感大流行警告級別從4級提高到僅次於最高級的5級，這意味著大規模流感疫情“正在逼近”。這是世衛組織3天內第二次 提高流感大流行警告級別。世衛組織負責人呼籲:“所有國家現在應該立即啟動針對流感大暴發的應對預案。”我們要問的是，對此，中國能夠無動於衷嗎？
第二，關於防疫措施過嚴的問題。因為甲型H1N1流感疫情的源頭不在中國，中國沒有這樣的病例，所以中國採取的是防止境外患者進入措施，在入境 的口岸加強測量體溫，如果發現病患立即隔離醫治。也就是說，中國著重在防。我們認為，這是負責任而且有效的措施。美國無動於衷，最終受害。5月上旬，美國 的確診患者數量急劇增加，4日僅為279例，但6日就劇增至642例，8日更是上升為1639 例，一舉超越墨西哥，成為確診感染甲型H1N1流感人數最多的國家。截至13日，美國已確診3009例，死亡3例。這樣的麻煩，中國不願意在自己的國度發 生，美國不作為，不能指責中國在作為。
第三，關於對美國經濟不利的問題。甲型H1N1流感疫情對經濟的影響很大，不僅僅對美國，對北美、對中國、對世界的影響都不可小看。中國的人口 密度比北美大，醫療設施比北美差，同樣的疫症，在中國的傳播速度之快、危害速度之大，不是美國所謂的專家可以了解的。所以，如果中國一下子像美國這樣，疫 情泛濫，勢必更加嚴重地衝擊經濟。在中美經貿關係密切的時期，中國經濟受到嚴重損害，美國經濟又能獨善其身？
第四，關於中國領導人反應過度的問題。沒錯，中國領導人高度關注甲型H1N1流感疫情。中共中央總書記、國家主席、中央軍委主席胡錦濤對此高度 重視，強調：鑒於當前甲型H1N1流感疫情仍在一些國家和地區蔓延，中國也發現首例輸入性確診病例，必須引起高度重視。要進一步加強領導，繼續抓緊做好應 急響應的各項工作，科學、有效實行衛生防範措施，全力制止疫情在中國傳播，確保人民群眾身體健康和生命安全。對於胡錦濤等中國領導人以民為本，關心國人的 健康安全，在中國，得到全面擁護，沒有什麽人認為這是反應過度。
中國外交部早前回應西方國家批評中國的防疫措施反應過度時表示，這是西方國家對中國的誤解。中國外交部發言人馬朝旭說“我們希望通過國際合作， 共同遏制甲型H1N1病毒的流行，早日克服這一疫情。我們將進一步加強這方面的合作。”馬朝旭拒絕評論美國和加拿大在豬流感的口岸防控方面是否做得不 夠。
作為媒體，我們沒有政府這般含蓄，我們要嚴正指出，美國應對甲型H1N1流感的措施是放任自流，不負責任的，危害極大，對世界是不負責任的。這 正如香港的星島日報評論文章指出的：“美國醫療科技先進，購藥財力雄厚，對甲型H1N1流感應付裕如，也許覺得世界衛生組織和歐亞等地區大驚小怪。美國與 全世界交往頻密，口岸不設防，成為病毒最大輸出國，似乎沒有顧及甲型H1N1流感傳播到醫療比較落後、環境衛生比較惡劣的發展中國家，對當地人民健康和生 命構成多大威脅。”所以，美國根本沒有資格對中國的防疫措施指手劃腳。
日前，中國衛生部長陳竺代表中國政府感謝陳馮富珍領導世衛組織在全球防控甲型H1N1流感方面發揮的積極作用。他通報了中國內地2例甲型 H1N1流感確診病例的基本情況，並強調指出，中國政府高度重視甲型H1N1流感防控工作，在短時間內迅速建立了多部門參加的聯防聯控工作機制。在出現確 診病例後，全力救治患者，追蹤密切接觸者，及時通報和發布有關信息；在繼續堅持邊境口岸嚴格檢疫的同時，加強了人群流感監測工作並啟動了網絡直報；積極開 展國際合作。中國將在近期為東盟國家舉辦甲型H1N1快速檢測技術培訓班，並希望與世衛組織在適當的時候聯合舉辦國際學術研討會。
世界衛生組織（WHO）總幹事陳馮富珍則表示，在疫情暴發後，中國政府發揮了強有力的領導作用，防控措施積極有力。她絲毫不懷疑中國政府有能力 抵禦這次疫情，並讚賞中國國家領導人為控制疫情所作出的努力。她指出，這將是一場長期持久的戰役。當前中國最重要的是要準備應對秋冬季的第二波。衛生部門 要加強對飼養禽類人員的流感監測，以及甲型H1N1流感患者的診治。世衛組織願意繼續支持中國的防控工作，並提供力所能及的幫助。
5月28日，陳馮富珍再次表達肯定，她在接受新華社等中國媒體採訪時說，中國政府在應對甲型H1N1流感疫情過程中作出了“非常有力的反應”， 所採取的應對措施取得了良好效果。陳馮富珍說，中國政府採取了有力的應對措施，做到及時發現、追蹤流感患者並採取治療措施。到目前為止，這些措施效果良 好。鑒於全球疫情形勢仍在不斷發展變化，陳馮富珍建議中國政府繼續保持警惕，同時根據形勢變化調整相應措施。
為了對付甲型H1N1流感疫情，中國政府與世衛組織進行了緊密合作、有效互動，通過這一段對話，可以看得一清二楚。至於美國長期來對世衛組織不 滿，對世衛組織橫加指責，不願意配合世衛組織的各種政策，那是美國自己的事，與中國無關！中國與世衛組織的關係，也不管美國什麽事！美國不要把自己的態度 強加在中國頭上。