Thinking like a Bureaucrat at GM
Throughout the entire 11-year history (of the problem), there was no demonstrated sense of urgency, right to the very end.
GM’s CEO Mary Barra on a faulty ignition switch that cost at least 13 customers their lives. In response, she fired the 15 employees responsible for allowing this defect to persist.
I have to give her credit for this, she accepted more responsibility and took more action with this problem than all of Wall Street did after 2008 disaster. Clearly, there aren’t many adults on Wall Street.
What went wrong?
Fifteen or more people made bad decisions, year after year, for eleven years. They:
- Did not fix the problem.
- Did not report information related to the problem that might have resulted in a fix.
- Used bureaucratic processes to avoid taking responsibility for the problem.
Why did these employees make bad decisions?
These employees were bureaucrats. They made decisions like bureaucrats. This means they were trained to:
- See their job as separate and different from who they are as people.
- To avoid make decisions on their own. To use the corporations rules and regulations as the basis for all decisions.
- To view the needs of the bureaucracy as more important than the needs of customers and other outsiders.