General Business

Dec 08

General Motors : After the Bailout

I just finished watching the General Motors press conference concerning the funds the will be receiving and their plans moving forward and thought it would be a great case to start up some conversation regarding communications and dealing with public perception.

There were a few things that I thought CEO Rick Wagoner did right and somethings he could have improved upon.

What Went Right:

Presenting a sense of humanity and teamwork: He came with two members of his management team and made mentionof their hard work and put human faces to his company . This included making mention to his COO’s business casual wear for casual friday and how his CFO had not been able to change his clothes since yesterday being so busy . To me this showed that they aren’t taking an easy route out and that as a company they will work to meet the requirements of the deal.

Humbly acknowledging sucess: Mr. Wagoner made mention of the design and quality success of the 2008 Malibu, mentioning that this is the direction that GM plans to move towards. It demonstrates that GM has the potential to become a strong company once more.

What went wrong:

Arogance: A key peice of this press conference should have been directly thanking the American people and stating that they will not let them down. Instead of this Mr Wagoner made statements of how GM had made america in its first 100 years and will help to bring the american people out of this recession as they reform themselves and move into the next 100 years. You don’t even know if you’ll last past 2009!! Now is now the time to be making any grandiose statements, it should be acknowledging that you’ve been making mistakes and that they will be fixed ASAP!

Lack of details: Often there were statements made towards the plan presented to the US government but no clear direction or details had been mentioned on how exactly they plan to change themselves. I think they should have at least stated some details of a clear plan like for example how they plan to focus on strengthening core brands,begin retooling factories to be more efficient or completely re-inventing themself to be a leader in green technologies. Other than some very broad and ambigious statements from the COO I heard none of that…. in the months to come its going to be very important to communicate how GM is going to make itself profitable.

Moving forward: In the months to come its going to be ever important that GM has strong communications between government and all of its stakeholders. Its going to be very important as well to demonstrate that they aren’t wasting the public funds given to them, especially in these hard times. With the many billions invested in the banking industry I feel that a feeling of anger and disdain is the general sentiment of the public towards banking firms who are doing little to show how they deserve the public trust ( the term “banksters” says alot about this sentiment). Being close to bankruptcy GM cannot afford to go this route, they need to change their past perception that America ( and the world ) needs GM and instead that its exactly the opposite.

Dec 08

Monster Cable’s Ugly Fight

In an interesting he said,she(?) said sort of battle Monster Cable has filed suit (since dropped) with Monster MiniGolf over the use of Monster in its name arguing that it holds the legal trademark of “Monster” and only they have the right to liscence and sell it .Monster MiniGolf feeling pushed into a corner has smartly brought this fight to the public via an Ebay posting appealing to the general public to buy a $1 Monster Mini Golf coupon to defray their legal costs. Since then this name battle has been picked up in local news media ( ABC News 10 of California) prominent blogs ( Consumerist, Engadget) and social news sites ( Reddit,Digg) and has recieved a large negative reaction.

Noticing that the company is recieving a lot of negative press coverage and feedback, Monster Cable has since dropped the suit and laid out its side of the story on a page of its website . In a video statement from CEO Noel Lee the company claims that they too are the little guy and they simply don’t want to see a franchiser make profit off their trademark ( video after post) . In an act to make the company seem less cold and uncaring they have also asked Monster Mini Golf to donate a monthly $100 fee to a chosen charity for use of its name .*

I think in the end of it all Monster Cable has wasted time and resources just to come out looking like a bad guy and will loose sales as a result . If they had a redo I would suggest to them that they do one of two things: either calling Monster MiniGolf out publicily stating that hey, you’re using our trademark , stop or pay up and follow it through to the end ( rather than look like a company that waivers or is just out to get people) or that they just not bother with the whole mess to begin with.

This is a case of dragging your ( already tarnished?) name in the mud over an issue that most people don’t care about…. and hey if you want to protect your name so much what about Monster Energy Drink? I would understand if it were a more obscure name like Twitter or Microsoft, but with such a generic name the company shouldn’t be dependant on just the name but what product and brand attributes they stand for.

*Monster MiniGolf has since made a public statement

Dec 08

The Death of Economic Man

This past September I picked up The Essential Drucker by managment great Peter Drucker. I sort of bought this out ofEssential Drucker remorse….. in an earlier discussion with someone I was asked to consider Porters 5 Forces for an organization and drew a complete blank ( this was quickly fixed when I got to my Strategic Management class … I know pretty bad). 

As I’m done exams and school work I finally have a chance to read this book and I’ve gotten far enough to start forming opinions about his writing. At first I was put off by how overlly wordy at times his writing can be ( using words such as fastidiousness even sends me looking for a dictionary) but overall I’m begining to find  some  usefull insight .

I’ve just finished  the chapter called ” Social Impacts and Social Problems” discussing the role of corporations in society. Drucker discusses how while supporting society and being aware of the impact a firm has may seem to go against the idea of profit maximization it actually works in the firms best interest. Companies need advancing and growing  societies to operate  and as he discusses earlier on  in the text  the most important thing to a company’s success is the customer. 

Within the chapter he also brings up topics that fit very well with todays current economic situation . Companies should knowingly do no wrong as  customers  and stake holders will loose faith in organizations who only work in their self interest. They should  also operate within their realms of responsibility or be held responsible for thier mistakes. He also discusses the falsehood of executive compensation.In his opinion  compensation packages   don’t reward for expertise and knowledge but rather are made for status and personal standing. 

I may give an update or two on some interesting points in the book as I go on but it looks like I may complete it fairly quickly! From what I’ve been reading so far though I think  P.Druckers reputation holds true and that his insights are relevant and useful for anyone involved in an organization  for-profit or otherwise .