Club Meeting – September 22nd, 2016


“Paint it Red” presented by Ethel Burwell Dowling Editor and Co-Arthor of GM: Paint It Red.

Our Program today was about how corporate culture in and of itself cannot overcome human nature.   Here is a brief overview of Ethel Burwell Dowling’s comments…

· Nicholas Kachman– Authored the book and was a former GM executive.  He wanted to share his observations of his time with General Motors (GM).
· The crux of the story was to be centered on the billions of dollars wasted as a result of a deal GM put together with the Environmental Protection Agency to upgrade its paint shops.
paint-it-red-docs· Mr. Kachman had a collection of notes which were turned over to Ms. Dowling so she could craft them into a book.
· Ms. Dowling set about to develop a story line out of the notes that could be supported with research and details.
· The main story line emerged that was broader than just the paint plant deal.  The narrative became focused on the overall culture of GM with two key themes-  Pride and Self Interest.
· With respect to Pride; the company resisted regulation at every turn, had a complete disregard for their consumer and lacked any evidence of cost controls.
ethel-burwell-dowling-092216· With respect to Self Interest; the company had a corporate culture that punished those who questioned leadership (evidenced by their “Team Play” concept of loyalty over truth) and has unchecked misappropriation of company resources.
· The bottom line of the book was an examination of the real/actual priorities of the business and the people who ran it vs. the written priorities of the corporation.

To learn more here is a book review link on…   Originally Published July 26, 2016 by Mike Smitka.  (Free site registration required to read complete article.)

The last paragraph reads…
“I may not use Kachman’s book in my teaching, because my class is only 4 weeks long and I need to prep students in the first week for a series of visiting speakers and visits to auto companies, ranging up and down the value chain from suppliers to salvage yards.  But I’m glad I stumbled across his book, thanks to meeting his editor/co-author Ethel Burwell Dowling, who ended up in the same rural Virginia community as myself.  I will re-read it at some point, and keep recommending it to others in the industry.  I hope to meet Kachman, too, and will ask Ethel for an introduction prior to my next trip to Michigan.”

Special thanks to Matt Churchill who provided summary of today’s program!