What makes a successful company?

I saw this piece today that asked when GM could have turned it around. It is just a short blog post, but I read it and the comments with great interest. I’ve owned at least 10 GM cars in my life (I drive one now and think it’s fine but not great), and most bring back great memories, mainly because being young and crazy is fun, regardless of what car you’re driving. Of them all, my favorites were the 1964 Corvair convertible and the 1978 Pontiac Grand Safari station wagon, which my Mother ordered with the custom Corvette yellow paint job (brightest yellow offered), chrome luggage rack, the fake wood trim and fake wire wheel hub caps. The first was the coolest car any teenager could possibly drive, and I loved every second of the attention it earned me (especially from the fairer sex). The second was so blindingly awful it it created its own anti-vibe. Girls were actually morbidly interested in finding out who the lunatic was who drove that wretched abomination. Bad boy image courtesy of horrible Detroit iron.

So it is with great sadness that I consider the mess in which the American auto industry finds itself. It is fair to ask the question of when it all went wrong. For what it is worth, I agree with those that say it was not any one thing. GM forgot to do many small things right, and that’s what’s led to the current predicament.

Excellence is consistent and faithful execution of a good plan. Toyota and Honda are the prime examples of succeeding by paying attention to details and playing a consistent game. GM seems to have been counting on one or two home runs a decade (like SUVs in the ’90s) to keep winning the game, when focusing on the boring fundamentals of building good reliable cars was the winning strategy.

PassageMaker is not about the big play. Quite to the contrary, our team understands that you win by treating every customer with the same level of care and professionalism, that each successfully completed project builds on the lessons learned in previous projects and prepares you for the next one. Continuous improvement is a cliche by now, but that’s really how companies succeed.

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