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GM's Akerson: ‘I Want Us to Play Offense’

"I want us on the balls of our feet."

Daniel Akerson, Managing Director of The Carlyle Group
Source: mason.wm.edu
Daniel Akerson, Managing Director of The Carlyle Group

That comment from GM CEO Dan Akerson is the clearest indication the new leader at GM wants his company to move faster, be more aggressive, and win.

There's no way of knowing from one meeting whether Akerson will lead GM renaissance, but I like what I heard from the new CEO.

In particular his belief the automaker needs to be quicker and more nimble.

"One of the ethics, if you will, that I would like to inculcate, ...is that we shift from being a defensive player to an offensive player. More of an attackers culture than a defenders culture. I want us to play offense, not defense," said Akerson adding, "to play offense whether it's in sports or in the military, speed is of the essence."

One of the main reasons GM slowly slid into decline over the last 30 years is because it was too slow to act.

Sure, it would eventually get into certain markets and businesses, but it rarely leads the pack.

With the exception of its growth in China, GM has generally been a slumbering giant.

Akerson knows that has to change. GM must move faster. Faster designing and building cars. Faster identifying key trends before they develop. And faster when it comes to handling a rapidly changing auto industry.

What does Akerson think about the different aspects of GM?

"I'd like to see a little more humor in our ads, because I think humor sells."" -CEO, GM, Dan Akerson

On the line-up, Akerson says, "Our product lines are in pretty good shape, but we do have some issues."

ON GMs marketing, Akerson says, "I'd like to see a little more humor in our ads, because I think humor sells."

And whether GM can beat Toyota, Ford and other automakers day in, day out Akerson says, "You have to win over customers every day on the road. Our products are second to none, I'm convinced of that."

Now he has to convince the rest of the world. And fast. GM will soon be a publicly traded company and investors will be anxious to see the new GM deliver solid results. Akerson has little time to waste.

Which should be OK with a CEO who knows speed is of the essence.

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