Very Interesting Interview with Ross Perot on GM

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Thread: Very Interesting Interview with Ross Perot on GM

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    Very Interesting Interview with Ross Perot on GM

    'THE GM SYSTEM IS LIKE A BLANKET OF FOG'
    By Thomas Moore / Ross Perot
    February 15, 1988

    (FORTUNE Magazine) – In a genial, three-hour interview recently in his Dallas office, Ross Perot spoke expansively to FORTUNE's Thomas Moore about how he came to understand the depth of GM's troubles and how he began to formulate his plan for putting them right.

    Excerpts: "We've got to nuke the GM system. We've got to throw away Sloan's book ('My Years With General Motors', former chairman Alfred P. Sloan Jr.'s description of GM's management system). It's like the Old Testament -- frozen thousands of years ago. We still believe that we can find the right page and paragraph to give us the answer to any question we have today. When you get down to the guys who actually have their hands on things, they know what to do. They can design, engineer, and build the best products in the world. My question is: Why haven't we unleashed their potential? The answer is: the General Motors system. It's like a blanket of fog that keeps these people from doing what they know needs to be done. I come from an environment where, if you see a snake, you kill it. At GM, if you see a snake, the first thing you do is go hire a consultant on snakes. Then you get a committee on snakes, and then you discuss it for a couple of years. The most likely course of action is -- nothing. You figure, the snake hasn't bitten anybody yet, so you just let him crawl around on the factory floor."

    Continued - http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortu...0199/index.htm
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    Re: Very Interesting Interview with Ross Perot on GM

    You've gotta love this:

    One day I made a speech to some senior executives. I said, ''Okay, guys, I'm going to give you the whole code on what's wrong. You don't like your customers. You don't like your dealers. You don't like the people who make your cars. You don't like your stockholders. And, to a large extent, you don't like one another. ''For this company to win, we're going to have to love our customers. We're going to have to stop fretting about dealers who make too much money and hope they make $1 billion a year through us. The guys on the factory floor are the salt of the earth -- not mad-dog, rabid, burn-the-plant-down radicals. And all this sniping at one another -- the financial guys vs. the car guys -- is terribly destructive.'' Of course, it was a waste of time to make that statement. I GOT MY FIRST INDICATION that consumers would stop buying many GM cars because of the large number of calls I received from customers and dealers with car complaints. I answered every customer complaint about a General Motors car the whole time I was on the GM board. This created great trauma inside GM because there was a department that did that. I tried that department, and all they did was send out form letters. I would call people and tell them that I got their letter, listen to their problem, and call the regional office. If I couldn't get a response from the regional office, I would send out an EDS trainee. GM would say, ''What does he know about cars?'' Nothing -- but he knew that his whole life depended on making sure that the customer was treated right, because he had been trained on that since day one.

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    Re: Very Interesting Interview with Ross Perot on GM

    And another one:

    As a result of that meeting, I went out and talked to Cadillac mechanics. I said, ''What's going on with those gaskets? What happens when you fix them?'' They said, ''Well, we put a new gasket in, and they leak again.'' I went to an independent mechanic, a high school graduate, and asked, ''Do you have a lot of General Motors cars coming in here with bad gaskets?'' He says, ''All the time, Ross.'' I said, ''Can you fix them?'' ''Yep.'' I said, ''Do they come back?'' ''Nope.'' I said, ''How do you fix them?'' He winked at me and says, ''Come back here.'' He had all the General Motors gaskets. Then he had a good piece of gasket material, and he would lay the GM gaskets there and draw a picture with a pencil. Then he would take an X-Acto knife and cut out a good gasket from the gasket material, and he'd put that on the car. He says, ''They don't ever come back.'' He said, ''Ross, the problem is, some accountant at General Motors is probably saving 3 cents a gasket.'' Somebody probably got a bonus out of that, because 3 cents times millions of gaskets is a big number. I say put the best material in the world on the cars. Mark it up and charge customers a profit for it -- and tell them what you did. People will rush to buy it.

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    Re: Very Interesting Interview with Ross Perot on GM

    Last one:

    We ought to cut out this business that if you're an executive your car comes into the garage every morning and the mechanics take it, and if there's anything wrong with it they fix it. You don't know what reality is. Your car is perfect. I say no. Go to a dealer. Buy a car. Negotiate for it. Have the engine fail. Have the transmission fall out. Have the tailpipe fall off. You should walk around the 25th floor of the General Motors Building in New York. An entire teak forest must have been decimated for that floor -- and this is something they use one afternoon a month. I said, ''Let's get rid of the 25th floor. This is obscene waste. This is a let-them-eat-cake floor.'' They went nuts on me. They said, ''Well, where are we going to meet?'' I said, ''Wherever. In a conference room in the Holiday Inn.'' Of course that was bad. I should have said in the Waldorf-Astoria, in the Pierre. Anywhere is cheaper than keeping that mausoleum.

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    Re: Very Interesting Interview with Ross Perot on GM

    Yep. Ross Perot is a straight-forward, great businessman. He would've made a great President. My parents voted for him both times he ran and I cheered "Ross For Boss" when my private school had an election rally (pro-Bush Sr. - Christian school).
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    Re: Very Interesting Interview with Ross Perot on GM

    My favorite Perot story is when he went to Iran... makes me proud to be... um... a Westerner?

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    Re: Very Interesting Interview with Ross Perot on GM

    Great interview. Thanks for posting it, Andrew.

    Ross Perot is cut from a far finer piece of cloth than the schlubs he ran against in 1992.

    I took the position that anybody who needed a chauffeur to drive him to work was probably too old to be on the payroll, and that anybody in a car company ought to be driving his own car because you didn't get much of a feel in the back seat. We shouldn't be giving handmade cars to executives. We ought to cut out this business that if you're an executive your car comes into the garage every morning and the mechanics take it, and if there's anything wrong with it they fix it. You don't know what reality is. Your car is perfect. I say no. Go to a dealer. Buy a car. Negotiate for it. Have the engine fail. Have the transmission fall out. Have the tailpipe fall off. You should walk around the 25th floor of the General Motors Building in New York. An entire teak forest must have been decimated for that floor -- and this is something they use one afternoon a month. I said, ''Let's get rid of the 25th floor. This is obscene waste. This is a let-them-eat-cake floor.''

    I love the way he tells an EDS intern to fix something and he fixes it. What a frikkin concept.
    He must have driven those bureaufools absolutely nuts during his tour of duty at General Van Winkle.

    Wish to hell he'd won in 1992.
    Last edited by Neanderthal; 07-12-2007 at 01:56 AM.

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    Re: Very Interesting Interview with Ross Perot on GM

    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewGS
    Yep. Ross Perot is a straight-forward, great businessman. He would've made a great President. My parents voted for him both times he ran and I cheered "Ross For Boss" when my private school had an election rally (pro-Bush Sr. - Christian school).
    He's a no-nonsense man of action. The antithesis of a cloistered bureaucrat.

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    Re: Very Interesting Interview with Ross Perot on GM

    Outstanding.

    I hate how many top-level executives in many companies can bring a company bad business, and give themselves bonuses for it. Hopefully Ross Perot and people like him will fix that - by demolishing competitors who get overpaid, ineffective bureaucrats for executives.

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    Re: Very Interesting Interview with Ross Perot on GM

    Up until a month ago, I worked for Perot Systems in Plano. I've met Mr. Perot and even had lunch with him. He is a genuinely nice person. Our conversation consisted mostly about IT stuff and how some of my processes could save the company money and make it even more. However most of the time I just shut up and listened. The man really is a genius.

    Our headquarters is like a museum. We have tons of old computers (including a 1947 ENIAC that was just outside my office) We have a large section dedicated to Texas history, Mr Perot's Presidential Campaign, Russian space travel, Ross Jr's world record helicopter flight, and so on. Mr. Perot himself likes to have his lunches in the company cafe when he is there but I think he is started to try and enjoy his semi retirement.

    Ironically, I now work at EDS, another company founded by Mr. Perot.


    Picture of a 1947 ENIAC on display at PerotSystems in Plano, TX

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    Re: Very Interesting Interview with Ross Perot on GM

    IMO Perot was the kind of man GM needed as the top honcho back in the 90s and I bet that if he was the man in charge GM woulndt be in the mess of the last 5 years
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    Re: Very Interesting Interview with Ross Perot on GM

    I thoroughly enjoyed that. Lot of respect for Mr. Perot. Smart, practical and tells it how it is.

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    Re: Very Interesting Interview with Ross Perot on GM

    Have people totally forgot this was the same man that dropped out of the Presidential Race then started up again?

    I too thought he would be a breath of fresh air until I saw his unstable actions...
    TRY to Think Outside of the Box!
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    Re: Very Interesting Interview with Ross Perot on GM

    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewGS
    Yep. Ross Perot is a straight-forward, great businessman. He would've made a great President. My parents voted for him both times he ran and I cheered "Ross For Boss" when my private school had an election rally (pro-Bush Sr. - Christian school).
    I spotted on a forum devoted to "alternate history" a "what if" about what if Ross Perrot was president?
    http://www.alternatehistory.com/disc...ad.php?t=66716

    I wish he could had kicked Roger B. Smith out and became chairman/president of GM. He could had done a much better job then Rb Smith and "kaptain kirk" Kerkorian would had never step on GM way later.

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    Re: Very Interesting Interview with Ross Perot on GM

    I heard another great story a few months into his tenure at GM. He went into a board mtg telling everyone what a poor product GM was making and that they werent world class on anything. He said that we need to be the best at something, anything as a start - Maybe its a door handle or a horn or a radio - lets be world class at something and build from there.

    Of course that fell on deaf ears..........

    I voted for the guy the first time he ran
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