Michael Burns didn't finish the job of restructuring General Motors Europe.
After nearly six years as president of GM Europe, Burns has taken a job as CEO of Dana Corp., a supplier in Toledo, Ohio.
Despite Burns' efforts, General Motors continues to lose money in Europe, and Opel's turnaround plan remains incomplete. But Burns doesn't deserve all the blame. A big part of the problem is GM's bizarre European management setup.
The president of GM Europe in Switzerland is the corporation's highest-ranking officer in the region, but the chairman of Adam Opel AG in Germany controls GM's main operating unit in Europe.
GM Vice Chairman Robert Lutz will run GM Europe until June 1, when Fritz Henderson takes over. Lutz should view this as an opportunity to fix GM Europe's tangled organization chart.
Lutz should consider a two-man CEO/COO setup. That sort of arrangement worked fairly well at Ford of Europe when Nick Scheele was chairman and David Thursfield was president.
The heads of GM Europe and Opel ought to work side by side in Germany. One should be CEO, the other COO for all of Europe, not just Opel.