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Car Guys vs. Bean Counters: The Battle for the Soul of American Business [Kindle Edition]

Bob Lutz
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (184 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.00
Kindle Price: $12.99
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Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

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Book Description

A legend in the car industry reveals the philosophy that's starting to turn General Motors around.

In 2001, General Motors hired Bob Lutz out of retirement with a mandate to save the company by making great cars again. He launched a war against penny pinching, office politics, turf wars, and risk avoidance. After declaring bankruptcy during the recession of 2008, GM is back on track thanks to its embrace of Lutz's philosophy.

When Lutz got into the auto business in the early sixties, CEOs knew that if you captured the public's imagination with great cars, the money would follow. The car guys held sway, and GM dominated with bold, creative leadership and iconic brands like Cadillac, Buick, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, GMC, and Chevrolet.

But then GM's leadership began to put their faith in analysis, determined to eliminate the "waste" and "personality worship" of the bygone creative leaders. Management got too smart for its own good. With the bean counters firmly in charge, carmakers (and much of American industry) lost their single-minded focus on product excellence. Decline followed.

Lutz's commonsense lessons (with a generous helping of fascinating anecdotes) will inspire readers at any company facing the bean counter analysis-paralysis menace.

Editorial Reviews


"Norman Dietz provides a steady-paced, documentary-style approach to this intriguing material. Lutz's comments will appeal to anyone interested in the fascinating world of auto manufacturing." ---Library Journal Audio Review

About the Author

BOB LUTZ held senior leadership positions at Gm, ford, Chrysler, and BMW over the course of an unparalleled forty-seven-year career, culminating in his vice chairmanship of General motors from 2001 to 2010. He is the bestselling author of Guts: 8 Laws of Business from One of the Most Innovative Business Leaders of Our Time.

Product Details

  • File Size: 493 KB
  • Print Length: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio; Reprint edition (June 9, 2011)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004IYJEA6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #219,573 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
97 of 104 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'Maximum' Bob Lutz At Maximum Velocity June 9, 2011
`Maximum' Bob Lutz is the last of the legendary `car guys' in the US automotive business. Car guys are those who work in the auto business because they like cars as opposed to the `bean counters' who work in the car business but treat the product as just another widget.

Car guys are those who work at GM or Ford or Chrysler during the day and then at night, work on their cars as a hobby. On weekends, they would race them. During their free time, they would talk cars with other car guys. That's what built GM and Detroit in general. What has almost destroyed it has been the rise of the bean counter to positions of dominance in the domestic car industry. Bean counters focus on financial manipulation over product excellence. Maximum Bob, in this book, documents what went wrong and how to address it - not only in the auto industry but in American industry in general which has all too often been led down the same path to doom as the car industry.

The book is partly a biography covering a very short portion of Lutz's life - his second stint at GM - which recently ended after about a decade. This time around, he tried, with some notable success, to repair the damage he foresaw coming and which caused him to resign from GM many years before. It's more than a biography, however. It is also a diagnosis of what went wrong with the US car industry and US industry in general. Being Maximum Bob, he generally doesn't hold back his often controversial opinions being a person who'd rather speak out and found to be wrong than keep quiet.

The book delivers some surprises as well as details of behind the scenes activities, which, from time to time hit the mainstream news. The short book contains no filler.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Absolutely marvelous; anyone who reads this will understand the enervating hubris that is destroying business, education and government in America and much of the rest of the world.

First though, to set this book and Lutz in context, a quote from midway through the book: "I know I'm full of crap a lot of the time, but that comes with the territory.

"Your job is to provide me with honest feedback," Lutz writes. If read with this caveat in mind, this book offers enough insight to rescue almost any failing industry without government bailouts. In my career as a reporter, I've seen enough once excellent newspapers go down the drain because publishers refused to understand Lutz's observations, insight and remedies.

He's a "product man," which means a commitment to quality products instead of profits, prestige or paper pushing. Lutz is infuriated by "bean counters" who see value only in profits; as such, it is an eloquent 'cri de coeur' rather than a balanced analysis of business management.

That said, few if any can't benefit from his basic insights into the over-confidence, hubris and arrogance that is making America into a third world society. Federal debt crisis? If Lutz's approach was applied to government and industry, the debate would center on how to use the surplus instead of crying about the deficits produced by dumb attitudes.

The current assumption is that America is great simply by being America; Lutz argues superiority is based on a never-ending search for improvement and innovation rather than complacency. My experience is that America is better than its political or business satraps; if leaders can pick the wisdom from rants such as Lutz, no country can do better.
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86 of 105 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Far Too Many Excuses, Some Good Material As Well June 11, 2011
Lutz' book is about what happened to America's competitiveness, and why, per an outspoken personality with a 47-year stellar career in the business. The title gives Lutz' perspective away. His focus is the automobile industry, but the logic extends to much of our formerly dominant manufacturing sector. Generally his comments make good sense, though not always. Example - his major point would be more accurate if expressed as 'excessive focus on short-term profits. On the other hand, Lutz is not likely to apologize anytime soon for imperfect decision-making - he's more into improving things - right now, and being right more often than wrong.

Lutz is not afraid to name names. His first target is America's handling of the original oil crises - with increased CAFE requirements, instead of raising the gas tax. The unintended result, per Lutz, is that Japanese manufacturers did not have to do anything to meet the new requirements, while American firms incurred high expenditures. Japan also benefited from U.S. desire to keep it within its sphere of foreign policy influence - thus, we did little or nothing about the 'yen' exchange-rate being set too low. (Sound familiar to today and problems with China?) Continuing, Lutz complains that negotiated 'voluntary trade restraints (early to mid-1980s) did NOT result in American manufacturers simply raising prices rather than using the breather to improve costs and quality. However, Lutz' defense of American automakers (they were shifting to the new demand for pickups) lacks credibility because our manufacturers pushed that strategy as a means of avoiding both Japanese competition and stringent CAFE restraints. Similarly, Lutz criticizes those linking global warming to the auto industry, but does a poor job making his case.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 9 days ago by peter boyle
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed the book immensely
Lutz is a masterful writer when it comes to car subjects. He is a true car guy. Enjoyed the book immensely!
Published 11 days ago by T. McGeehan
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 13 days ago by Fred
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Solid Book
Good insider info on the major changes in the US auto industry. Recommended
Published 1 month ago by Otownjer
4.0 out of 5 stars Shall a carmaker be driven only by carguys?
Lutz has described what few could do it better, how the once biggest carmaker in the world turned to go bankrupt thank to a long list of strategic mistakes
Published 1 month ago by czilveti
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
interesting book of history
Published 1 month ago by Boss Man
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-read for the auto enthusiast
An inside view of GM's fall and rebirth.
Published 2 months ago by bill b
4.0 out of 5 stars Eye opening incite into the problems plaguing GM in the ...
Eye opening incite into the problems plaguing GM in the 80's and how they were overcome. Started reading it and couldn't put it down.
Published 2 months ago by Tom Walter
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great interesting book by one of the great minds of the car industry.Highly recommended, easy reading.
Published 3 months ago by case blanken
5.0 out of 5 stars Great insight into what happened to the US auto industry
Great insight into what happened to the US auto industry. I am sure the author represented the facts though his paradigms, but his take on what happened and his experiences in the... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Kraig Fox
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