Did an Anti-North American Sentiment and Arrogance Undermine Andersson’s Tenure at GM?

Posted on August 6, 2009


On the August 11th PI Window on Business Show I will be talking with three time honoree as a Supply and Demand Chain Executive’s “Pros To Know,” and co-author of the book “Transform Your Supply Chain” Bill Michels, regarding General Motor’s precipitous fall in relation to their supply chain strategy.

Like previous segments, I spend a great deal of time researching material to formulate questions in an attempt to look at a particular situation or story through a unique lens.  Sometimes, this process can result in reviewing information that can span several years if not decades.  Other times the needed historical perspective can be gained through more recent events.

In terms of the August 11th broadcast, I found that a 2007 speech delivered by Bo Andersson, who was at the time GMs top supply chain executive, at the 1st China International Auto Parts Expo to be both interesting and telling.

In an excerpt from the opening 10 minutes of his speech, Andersson made a number of statements that stood out, and in my humble opinion may very well provide a degree of insight into why he is the former VP of Procurement and Supply Chain at GM.  The comments may also explain why his leadership according to Michels ultimately resulted in “long term supply chain problems and risk” for the once venerable auto giant.

Of particular interest was Andersson’s comments that the “best market to sell cars and trucks in is North America, assuming you don’t produce them there,” to his lament over the fact that GM is paying a “big number, a large number” for health care coverage for 1.1 million North American-based retirees.

His direct reference to the fact that with the exception of 4 US-based executives on his team, every member has “served the company in two countries outside of their own,” and then implying that the 4 would be better served if they too expanded their global perspectives cannot help but give one pause for thought.  The old saying about not seeing the forest for the trees may in realty be reversed for Andersson in that his overly globalized view may have prevented him from seeing the trees for the forest.

To what degree did Andersson’s negative “leanings” influence both his strategy and policies is up to debate, however these as well as other compelling questions regarding GM, the automotive industry and the broader market as a whole will make for a compelling 45 minute discussion with Michels.

Use the following PI Window on Business On-Demand Player to access the August 11th broadcast:

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