If all goes as planned and GMcomes out of bankruptcy Thursday afternoon the country's largest auto maker will have gone in and out of Chapter 11 in 40 days. On one hand it's remarkable how quickly the process went. On the other hand, when Uncle Sam is willingly backing your journey through court and is really the only option, it's not surprising the court approved the deal.
Soon, the toughest part of GMs transformation will begin. The company will have to show it can succeed with fewer brands, fewer models, and fewer dealers. On paper the idea that "less is more" makes sense. In reality, it is incredibly hard for a shrinking auto maker to stop a slide. And for GM, it has been sliding for years.
I remember about 10 years ago when GM execs would parade around wearing pins that said "GM 30" to represent the goal of getting back to 30 percent market share. This was at a time when GM had between 27 ad 29% market share. I once brought up the skepticism many had about GM reaching 30% share to a GM exec and he scoffed before telling me off camera that I didn't understand the auto business.
That arrogance was a big factor in GMs long slide into bankruptcy. It's also a problem the executives have been working to break down for years. CEO Fritz Henderson knows the change has to continue. GM must become more nimble, responsive to customers, and its leaders must be willing to admit they don't have all the answers.
The real clock will soon start ticking. GMs future is almost here. Will it be successful? That's the real test facing the company after it leaves bankruptcy.
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