I understand it’s a very tough time to be in the car business. First it was high gas prices. You were building cars people wanted and conditions changed. You got caught by an unexpected, radical and rapid market shift. Understood.

Then you got slammed with a credit crunch. That took the buyers out of the market in spite of falling gas prices.

You got hit with 2 Black Swans in one year.

But the real problem is two-fold. Most important is your poor public perception. The private jet thing was a screw-up.

I held myself out as a reasonable business consultant to a struggling company. They hired me. I flew out to work with them. When I picked up my rental car, the only car available was a Cadillac. They gave me a free upgrade in spite of my plea for anything else. Sure, it was fun driving a new Cadillac. But I knew it wasn’t appropriate to show up for work on day one driving a luxury car. It was all they had and I spent the week explaining that car to be sure everybody knew it was not my choice.  See?

The other problem you face is the lack of an open innovative pipeline of new ideas. There has been far too much focus on efficiency and not nearly enough on creativity. Get rid of the LEAN and 6-Sigma “experts”. You need “can do” and “know how” more than you need complete, sterile efficiency.

Your industry is suffering. At the same time, each of your companies has an enormous resource pool. Don’t let panic rule the day. Start building pipelines so ideas can flow smoothly to where they need to go for action. You can do this. All three of you can do it.

Utilize what you’ve got. Work on your public perception. Do that and you’ll see a willingness to support your effort. You might even get some bailout money.

Chris Reich, Author of TeachU’s Business Talk Blog
[email protected]