General Motors' internal investigation of its recall crisis, the Valukas report, is a damning indictment of employee misconduct, incompetence and inaction leading to great harm to GM's customers.
The 325-page report also can be a mirror for the rest of the auto industry. Every auto company should take a hard look to see what of its own operations it recognizes. For example, does the "GM nod," whereby members of a problem-solving committee all nod agreement but nobody takes action, seem familiar?
GM is preparing for investors an estimate of the financial damage the automaker anticipates from the fiasco. But that's the short-term hit. GM also must deal with indirect and long-term damage to its reputation, much as Toyota Motor Corp. did in coping with its recent recall problems.
Complacency and smugness can strike any large, long-established corporation. And that pretty much describes every automotive company with the critical mass to function successfully in a highly capitalized industry.
GM CEO Mary Barra has vowed to root out the practices that caused the current mess. She promises to overhaul the automaker's corporate culture, although she must still articulate her vision of what GM should become.
Other companies can find value in the Valukas report as well. Executives and employees should study it as a starting point for some reflection on their own company culture.