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Car Guys vs. Bean Counters: The Battle for the Soul of American Business Hardcover – June 9, 2011

4.2 out of 5 stars 201 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“This book should be required reading for every young person who seeks a business degree. That applies equally to the current management of GM.”

—David E. Davis, Jr., former editor and publisher of Car and Driver

“This is exactly what you’d expect from Bob Lutz: no holds barred, no punches pulled, and no stone left unturned. It’s a true insider’s perspective and a great read.”

—Stephen J. Girsky, vice chairman of General Motors

Car Guys vs. Bean Counters is the best book written by an auto industry insider since Iacocca in 1984, and deserves to be shelved alongside Alfred P. Sloan’s management classic, My Years with General Motors.”


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

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio; 1St Edition edition (June 9, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591844002
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591844006
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.7 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (201 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #118,780 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Paul Cassel VINE VOICE on June 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover
`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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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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Format: Hardcover
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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