GM’s Reuss: Why We Continue to Like This Guy

Two passages from the presentation made by Mark Reuss, president, GM North America, to the Midwest Automotive Media Association this morning at the Chicago Auto Show, that are worth noting: “Our new vision for GM is simple: Design, build, and sell the world’s best vehicles. “Our overriding goal must be fundamental excellence in product and customer service—and everything we do, as individual employees and as a company, is being re-evaluated now on its ability to support this goal. “Today, the core of our success will come from satisfying our customers better than anyone else.

Two passages from the presentation made by Mark Reuss, president, GM North America, to the Midwest Automotive Media Association this morning at the Chicago Auto Show, that are worth noting:

“Our new vision for GM is simple: Design, build, and sell the world’s best vehicles.

“Our overriding goal must be fundamental excellence in product and customer service—and everything we do, as individual employees and as a company, is being re-evaluated now on its ability to support this goal.

“Today, the core of our success will come from satisfying our customers better than anyone else. One by one, person by person.”

Notice there is no chest-thumping here. Reuss is acknowledging (1) what they have to do (“Design, build. . .”) and the way they have to do it (“as individual employees and as a company. . . .satisfying our customers. . . .One by one. . . .”).

Yes, autos are mass production. But individuals buy cars and trucks.  One by one.

R

Second:

“It’s hard to admit, but we have given our customers reason to doubt that our quality is good enough—so we need to go beyond what other companies do.

“That’s why our quality just can’t just match the competition—our quality has to blow away the competition.

“I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again—we can no longer tolerate a culture at GM that punishes people for identifying quality concerns. We need a culture that encourages it, that celebrates it, that rewards it—and that’s what I’m after.”

Again, the realistic modesty. Let’s face it: before Toyota took its tumble, it was on the top of the heap, the benchmark for quality. It wasn’t GM. It wasn’t any other company. That’s just how it was.

Reuss knows that they’ve got a lot of work to do. While he says that they know that customers had a reason to doubt GM’s quality, the bigger issue is the non-customers that don’t necessarily have a reason to doubt that do. No matter how many cars and trucks GM sells, there are always more people that it could have sold to but didn’t.

Note also that Reuss acknowledges that the culture that has existed at GM may not have been one that was, well, quality friendly. But when the guy at the top is looking for it, then chances are he’s going to see it.