Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
The writer is a retired GM executive. He was with GM 32 years.
General Motors' reaching out to a 69-year-old automotive executive to save it should be a wake-up call to all American and global management.
Not only is Robert Lutz well beyond normal retirement age, but GM's obvious confidence in his leadership, wisdom and counsel will contractually continue his presence well into his 70s.
Today's predominant thinking in time of necessity to reduce a work force is to eliminate the older, seasoned, experienced and dedicated employees in favor of young new blood that brings with it supposed new ideas and aggressiveness. I respectfully submit that wisdom, talent, experience and longevity are not tradeoffs to be sacrificed in favor of an untested, theoretical, trial-and-error work force.
Pragmatism alone should dictate a middle road that prevents the denuding of a company's arsenal of wisdom and experience.
In other words, academic intelligence, albeit valuable, cannot (nor ever will) replace wisdom that is earned only by time and experience.
Therefore, in the necessity for industrial downsizing or rightsizing, those faced with that unenviable task should revisit the alternative last in-first out method of personnel inventory control.
In doing so, they will preserve what is really needed, i.e. wisdom, experience, proven talent and dedication.
Such a departure from present thinking is controversial.
However, I am willing to bet the farm that Lutz's timeline for returning GM to its role as a global automotive leader would be substantially reduced if his first- and second-tier teams of subordinate management were older, seasoned and experienced GM managers and executives rather than younger, intelligent people mixed with a menagerie of nonautomotive managerial mercenaries imported from other industries to replace the experience and wisdom that was downsized out of the company.