Car Guys vs. Bean Counters: The Battle for the Soul of American Business [NOOK Book]

Overview

?One of the most acute books about management and how com?panies work in practice that I have read in a long time. If anyone wants to know exactly how the U.S. auto industry got into trou?ble, here is your guide.?

?John Gapper, FINANCIAL TIMES



When Bob Lutz got into the auto business in the early 1960s,...
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Car Guys vs. Bean Counters: The Battle for the Soul of American Business

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Overview

“One of the most acute books about management and how com­panies work in practice that I have read in a long time. If anyone wants to know exactly how the U.S. auto industry got into trou­ble, here is your guide.”

—John Gapper, FINANCIAL TIMES



When Bob Lutz got into the auto business in the early 1960s, CEOs knew that if you captured the public’s imagination with innovative car design and top-quality crafts­manship, the money would follow. The “car guys” held sway, and GM dominated with bold, creative leadership and iconic brands like Cadillac, Buick, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, GMC, and Chevrolet.



But then GM’s leadership began to put its faith in numbers and spreadsheets. Determined to eliminate the “waste” and “personality worship” of the bygone creative leaders, management got too smart for its own good. With the bean counters firmly in charge, carmakers, and much of American industry, lost their single-minded focus on product excellence and their competitive advantage. Decline soon followed.



In 2001, General Motors hired Lutz out of retirement with a mandate to save the company by making great cars again. As vice chairman, he launched a war against the penny-pinching number crunchers who ran the company by the bottom line and reinstated a focus on creativity, design, and cars and trucks that would satisfy GM’s customers.



Lutz’s commonsense lessons, combined with a generous helping of fascinating anecdotes, will inspire readers in any industry.


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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

As one of the executives credited with bringing General Motors back from the brink, 47-year car industry veteran Bob Lutz knows what went wrong in the auto business and how it got corrected. While he doesn't ignore major external reasons (oil crises, Japanese imports, new federal regulations), Lutz argues that GM's biggest problems were self-created. With bracing specificity, he describes how "forward-looking" management placed their faith and their company's fortunes in the hands of "bean counting" analysts who blurred the carmaker's focus on product excellence and customer value. Now retired, he speaks his mind candidly in this classic case study. Editor's recommendation.

From the Publisher
"Norman Dietz provides a steady-paced, documentary-style approach to this intriguing material. Lutz's comments will appeal to anyone interested in the fascinating world of auto manufacturing." —-Library Journal Audio Review
Library Journal
Lutz shares his philosophy on running a successful business, which he developed during 47 years in auto manufacturing, including leadership positions with each of the Big Three firms. Lutz blames Detroit's steady decline on overdependence on bean counters and the lack of "his type" (designers) in auto manufacturing. He asserts that the Big Three should return control to the "product guys" like him, of course. Lutz provides an interesting inside perspective on GM and his struggles with high labor costs, rising gas prices, and model design flaws. Expectedly, Lutz sees a silver lining in GM's emergence from the 2008 bankruptcy, while serving up a nostalgic view of a bygone Detroit when GM had annual sales revenue exceeding that of many European countries. AudioFile's Best Voices of the Century winner Norman Dietz provides a steady-paced, documentary-style approach to this intriguing material. Lutz's comments will appeal to anyone interested in the fascinating world of auto manufacturing, especially boomers who grew up driving Detroit iron. Also recommended for university libraries supporting business curricula. [The Portfolio hc, published in June, was a New York Times best seller.—Ed.]—Dale Farris, Groves, TX
Kirkus Reviews

A former top GM executive and avowed gearhead warns against the advance of soulless number-crunchers clueless about the hands-on details of the car business.

To Lutz (Guts: 8 Laws of Business from One of the Most Innovative Business Leaders of Our Time, 2003), it's not rocket science: Design and build the cars and trucks that customers want, and the rest will fall into place. This was his job as a GM vice chairman from 2001 to 2010. At the table—if not running the meeting—when most of the big decisions came down, the author, now in his late 70s, was often appalled by youthful bean-counting MBAs with their 4.0 GPAs but no common car sense.What matters, Lutz argues, is having on board at least one automotive artist with the talent to design desirable new cars. The author's talent, equally rare, was recognizing a good design, or a bad one drawn to bean-counter specs. His frequent criticism of the press is sometimes churlish, as when he alleges that unnecessarily harsh and ill-informed lefty journalism gave the Hummer H2—on which he signed off—an unjustifiably bad rep. He closes with the recognition that having a media-savvy, talking-head CEO is now a must and in the best interest of the business in which he worked for 47 years. The author also predicts GM's battery-and-gas-powered Volt will dominate the highways of the future, and he includes close accounts of GM's 2009 bankruptcy, government bailout and subsequent reemergence as a trimmed-down shadow of its former corporate self.

Well worth the ride—if not necessarily the car.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781101516027
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 6/9/2011
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 223,772
  • File size: 411 KB

Meet the Author

BOB LUTZ held senior leadership positions at Gm, ford, Chrysler, and BMW over the course of an unparalleled forty-seven-year career, culminating in his vice chairmanship of General motors from 2001 to 2010. He is the bestselling author of Guts: 8 Laws of Business from One of the Most Innovative Business Leaders of Our Time.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 31 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(10)

4 Star

(10)

3 Star

(7)

2 Star

(3)

1 Star

(1)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 31 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2011

    Great book on the auto industry

    This is an easy to read book about the auto industry in the US and specifically about what has been going on at GM for the last few years.

    Lutz also gives great insight into managing a huge corporation in a very competitive industry.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2011

    A big disorganized rant.

    There are a few insights to be gained here, for sure, and a peek behind the scenes showing how car companies are managed - but mostly it's just a huge disorganized rant that never seems to be going anywhere. Bob Lutz spends huge swaths of the text railing against the assorted things that he thinks made GM come so close to the brink, you get the feeling that maybe liberal academics, Al Gore, CAFE standards, and labor unions don't really factor in as much as he seems to claim. The premise - that having accountants dictate your product line instead of "product guys" leads to disaster - is an interesting one worth exploring. Instead this comes across as a 200-page quest to find a scapegoat.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2011

    Great business book

    This book provides an account of GM's internal operations over several decades, and an analysis of the events that led to the decline of the corporation. Lutz also delivers general business lessons throughout the text. I give the book 5 stars, but I was disappointed that the NOOK version does not include the images of the hard cover edition, which serve as examples for the text.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 27, 2011

    Hot Wheels

    With the recent down turn of the economy, no industry has suffered more than America's large automobile companies. In Car Guys vs Bean Counters: The Battle for the Soul of American Business by Bob Lutz, the author delves into the inner workings of General Motors (GM). He holds nothing back and tells it like he sees it.

    Before being brought in to help turn around GM, Lutz had a successful career in the auto industry.
    This book gives you a behind the scenes tour of an organization that simply got too large and lost its way. The vision and excitement of the "car guys" was replaced with the intellectually motivated and dull "bean counters".

    Lutz does do a good job explaining the evolution of cars from concept, design, and production. The continuous challenge to be innovative and design a car that consumers will buy.

    Lutz shares his small victories and continuous frustrations within the bureaucracy of this large multinational company. He was in the midst of the storm when three forces almost ended GM, the credit crunch, rising gasoline cost, and out of control legacy cost. He freely shares what he would have done if he were in charge and chronicles how he simple gave up and left the company after vicious attacks of the auto industry by the media and politicians.

    Car Guys vs Bean Counters: The Battle for the Soul of American Business by Bob Lutz is a good book to realize that in business all you need is a good product and ask lots of people to buy while not forgetting to dream big.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 31, 2013

    Great book

    He tells it like it is! Love the pics! History in the making.

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  • Posted August 16, 2011

    Excellent on product design

    Explains how GM made such poor cars due to a disfunctional organization populated by accountants and MBAs with no understanding of or concern about the customer.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2011

    Not bad

    Not bad

    0 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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