- 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)
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My Years with General Motors Paperback – October 1, 1990
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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.Read more ›
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It's like a brief MBA program. There a lot of issues about business from products segmentation to strategic acquisitions, union relations to bonuses, policies to procedures. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Oktay Altindis
I bought it from China, and the delivery was very fast! I love it !Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
I needed the book. The service was excellent with respect to delivery and product. The price was reasonable and fair.Published 9 months ago by F. Mccarley
It was just what my husband wanted. He has been wanting to read this book for years but had to wait until he retired from US Army so he could find the time to read!!!Published 11 months ago by Julie
Alfred Sloan's My Years with General Motors was filled with great content about the structure and insight of the upcoming automobile industry in the early 1900's. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Emilio
My Years with General Motors was written by Alfred P. Sloan Jr. and presents his employed life, giving a detailed insight on how a young man with unlimited potential became one of... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Connor Farrow
It is a very good book for anyone who is interested in economic history or learning about how one person can manage a large corporation like General Motors. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Zack Brown
My Years With General Motors is a biography of Alfred Sloan who was in the automobile industry for 65 years. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Ben Clare