Car Guys vs. Bean Counters: The Battle for the Soul of American Business
Author: Bob Lutz
I nearly stopped reading this book after about the first thirty pages where Lutz presents a diatribe about – well – virtually everything including “scheming” Japanese, global warming, politicians, Thomas Friedman, Japanese good luck rather than good marketing, health care costs etc. I am glad I stuck with a book written with a passion that Starbucks’ Howard Schultz would be proud of and a book that provides some powerful lessons for all business people.
Lutz’s basic contention is that Detroit was often managed by “idiot-savants;” People of enormous intelligence but who had no feel for cars, the marketplace or customers. Some of his commentary on the ludicrous decision making process in GM could have come straight out of a MASH episode.
In prepping this review, I went back and scanned Paul Ingrassia’s excellent book Crash Course: The American Automobile Industry’s Road to Bankruptcy and Bailout-and Beyond which in general is positive about Bob Lutz, so maybe he can be forgiven for being less than coy.
Bottom line I guess is that Lutz’s legacy is that GM today is producing some really attractive cars. Maybe, it will be sometime before we really understand their quality level, but one thing I do know is that I would like my marketing, sales and finance people to show the type of passion Lutz has and that is why anyone who is trying to build a brand and make connection with customers should read this book
Conor Cunneen is a Chicago based marketing, brand and leadership speaker who provides Substance with Humor to Improve People, Performance and Productivity. Conor is a former VP Marketing Unilever Foodservice who has worked in senior sales and marketing positions in the UK, USA and his beloved Ireland.
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