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Comment: This item is gently used in good or better condition. If it is a textbook it may not have supplements. It may have some moderate wear and possibly include previous owner's name, some markings and/or is a former library book. We ship within 1 business day and offer no hassle returns. Big Hearted Books shares its profits with schools, churches and non-profit groups throughout New England. Thank you for your support!
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My Years with General Motors Paperback – October 1, 1990

4.4 out of 5 stars 68 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Business; Reissue edition (October 1, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385042353
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385042352
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #106,043 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Alfred P. Sloan Jr. was CEO of General Motors from 1923 to 1946. This book was originally published in 1964. Sloan is seen as the first person to have worked out systematic organization in a big company, planning and strategy, measurements, the principle of decentralization - in short, basic concepts of a discipline of management. This is a difficult book to review, since it is more a historic piece on GM's history and development from Sloan's perspective than an autobiography. It does not discuss the individual Alfred P. Sloan Jr., it discusses Alfred P. Sloan Jr. as professional manager. The chapters also come across as business school lessons in different subjects, ranging from general management through to accounting, marketing and compensation strategies.
The book consists of two parts. "Part One is an integrated continuous story of the main lines of General Motors' progress, involving the origin and development of the corporation's basic management concepts in the areas of organization, finance and product." It discusses the extreme growth and development of the automobile industry from the early 1900s through to the early 1960s. It also discusses the methods General Motors introduced used to manage the corporation (Sloan all through the book keeps emphasizing the concept of the corporation). He later became known as a committee-man, because he used different types of committees to get/keep various divisions talking and working with each other.
"Part Two consists of individually distinct sections dealing in some detail with engineering, distribution, overseas operations, war and defense products, incentive compensation, and other aspects and branches of the enterprise.
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Comment 51 of 53 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
On the good side, this book has a great deal of information about the growth of General Motors, and it's ghost-written by a journalist, so it's easy to read.

Sloan was one of the first modern-style businessmen. He grew GM from a bunch of mechanical geniuses and seat-of-the-pants administrators to the biggest company in the world after World War two.

However, the U.S. auto industry was at the peak of its powers and was about to begin the long slow (but inevitable) decline. And unfortunately you can see why. In 1964 autos wouldn't last more than a few years, and were sold on the basis of the annual model change. It truly was a seller's market, and you can see how the problems of today stem from the attitudes of that time.

Sloan is at his best describing the period 1921-1929 when the industry fell into place. The thirties get little mention and the period after the war is treated as one long period with no developments.

Sloan is glib when it comes to showing off the attitudes of management of that time. Because GM couldn't sell high-profit cars during the war but instead did defence work, this "proves" that wars do not benefit business. There are two chapters, one on labor relations ("how we kept the hourly paid workers' wages down"), and following that, on executive bonuses ("must be kept in place").

It's a worthwhile read, but it's becoming more historical than instructional.
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Format: Paperback
Alfred Sloan can tell it like no other. From the early days of GM to the time he retired, this book chronicles the issues that faced GM. Marketing, segmentation, labor relations, competition, and many other aspects of managing an industrial giant. If you like this type of book, this is a classic. Prefer the tales and hype of the net economy, then this one will probably put you to sleep, though there are lessons here that anyone can learn from.
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I have been hearing for years that this book is a must read for anyone who aspires to be a great manager in the business world. What I found it to be was a fairly dry chronicle of the ascension of GM. I have no doubt that Sloan was a genius and perhaps the book was more of a revelation in 1963.

However, today many of the strategies discussed are somewhat obvious. For example, one of the overarching themes in the book is Sloan's belief in decentralization. At some point he realized that some centralization relative to certain business functions is needed. The company fine tuned this balance over the years and this is discussed in detail. This makes alot of sense but this a process that is taken for granted today. Anyone working in the business world for a few years at a medium to large sized company has seen this phenomena in action.

There is also quite a bit of material about financial controls which is good, again nothing revolutionary although the techniques were probably innovative for the time. In the end, I think the book works better as a decent history of the auto industry and GM although the writing style is so dry most "car nuts" would find it boring.

The history of the auto industry is populated with some remarkable characters, many of which were very eccentric with a real passion for automobiles. You won't find any anecdotes about that in this book, and of course that was by design. Sloan's intent was to chronicle the history of GM and his involvement with the company, and that is what he does. However, he does it in such a matter of fact way that some folks might find it tough to stick with it to the end. Not exactly a cure for insomnia but comes dangerously close at times.
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