I’ve been hearing a lot about courage in business these days. Frankly, I’m having a hard time accepting what is passed off as business courage. What bravery is required of a CEO if the consequence of mismanagement is a huge farewell bonus?
 
Daimler-Chrysler is in the process of cutting Chrysler loose. Buying Chrysler was a stupid move. It was very stupid of us (U.S.) to let a foreign company buy one of our major means of production. This post isn’t about THAT stupidity.
 
What I find cowardly is this statement taken from an Associated Press news release on 5-13-07:
 
“The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that Cerberus would keep Chrysler Chief Executive Tom LaSorda in place, while former Chrysler Chief Operating Officer Wolfgang Bernhard could get a board seat. Cerberus has retained Bernhard as an adviser.”
 
Okay, let’s be sure we’re getting this. The company LOST $1.5 BILLION last year. So, Daimler (Mercedes) is unloading Chrysler. The new buyer is not only keeping the CEO responsible for a $1.5 BILLION loss but also putting a former failed CEO on the board.
 
The article also mentions the company plans to “restructure” and “shed” 13,000 jobs. When they do this “shedding” the CEO will get credit for making “tough choices” and showing courage. That’s really crap. There isn’t a better word for it, sorry.
 
What Chrysler needs to “shed” is the entire management crew. The CEO and every VP need to go. Chrysler makes cars, not spaceships. It’s not that hard. Build a car that won’t fall apart in three years. It needs to get decent mileage. That would put them on par with the best (unfortunately). If they need engineering ideas they could take a Toyota Camry apart and study it. (Tongue-in-cheek)
 
I would be willing to bet that within the 13,000 people they plan to “shed” there are more innovative ideas than the CEO they are keeping will ever have.
 
Show some courage. Keep the workers, dump the management responsible for the mess, and start a program of internal innovation. It can be done.
 
Shameless Promtion: If your business is stale and due for a rejuvenation, I can help. It can be done.
 
Chris Reich, Author of TeachU’s Business Talk Blog