GM: Yes, They Are Getting Fast

Shortly after the story broke on October 7 that Mark LaNeve, GM vice president, U.S.

Shortly after the story broke on October 7 that Mark LaNeve, GM vice president, U.S. Sales, would be leaving the automaker as of October 15, GM put out an official statement from chairman and president Fritz Henderson. In addition to the obligatory nice things that are typically said under such circumstances—after all, LaNeve is a long-time GM employee, and was in a trying position during the past couple years, to put it mildly—Henderson’s statement went on to say: “A replacement for Mark will be named at a later date.”

Now, in the old GM it is likely that “later date” would mean, well, “later date.” Or, more specifically “a lot later date.”

But within a matter of hours, another statement emerged from Henderson’s RenCen office, this one stating that Susan Docherty will become GM vp of U.S. Sales as of October 16.

Yes, hours. The same date, not a later one.

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A couple of observations. One is that Docherty is certainly an amazing woman. Consider that her present job is general manager, Buick-GMC. She’s 46, at the trailing edge of the Baby Boomers, and she’s in charge of Buick. She’s a woman (obviously) in charge of GM’s singular truck brand.

And second: If this is an indication that GM execs are serious about speed—on the 7th, Henderson, obviously a busy man, said in an outline of its first 90 days out of bankruptcy, “We are taking aggressive actions and moving quickly to transform our culture into one that is truly customer focused”—then we know that there are actions along with the words.