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My Years with General Motors Paperback


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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: 9.2 x 6.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,140 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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His book is written in a matter-of-fact and engaging style.
J. M. Fitzpatrick
GM helped its dealers implement accounting methods to better manage their businesses.
Paul Eckler
Alfred P. Sloan Jr. was CEO of General Motors from 1923 to 1946.
Gerard Kroese

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Gerard Kroese on August 23, 2003
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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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Adam F. Jewell on February 2, 2000
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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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By David Field VINE VOICE on April 25, 2005
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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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By raysico@erols.com on December 8, 1998
Format: Paperback
Alfred Sloan teaches the reader how an successful manufacturing company should be organized and operated.
He shows how GM involved the Kettering Research Labs in elements of product improvement, how the various divisions of GM were organized and their relationship to the parent organization, how they employed developments from Kettering Labs such as the electric self starter and the "Kettering Ignition System" into modern auto design.
Mr. Sloan also describes how GM entered non-automotive businesses such as Frigidare Refrigerators and diesel electric train engine manufacturing and grew those entities into successful enterprises.
A must-read for students of the manufacturing business.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Louise McCauley on February 27, 2006
Format: Paperback
In this book, Alfred P. Sloan tells the story of his years as president and CEO of General Motors. His story is relevant for anyone who needs advice on how to save a company that is on the verge of bankruptcy and get it growing. Sloan has divulged his insights on organizational structure, management processes, financial control, product strategy and research. Here is some of the advice he offers:

· Balance cooperation and control: Sloan implemented a framework of coordinated policy and decentralized operations. Top managers made policy, and individual business units were free to implement the policy in the way they wanted. He created interdivisional committees to ensure continuity.

· Management. Rather than expecting managers to behave like drill sergeants, Sloan pushed for "selling" at all levels. Corporate leaders were expected to sell their policy decisions to divisions. Division managers were encouraged to sell operational initiatives to top management.

· Finances. Sloan created a system for reviewing appropriation requests to control spending. He also created a system of four-month forecasts to make sure the size of inventory did not exceed the needs of production.

· Product Strategy. Sloan developed a marketing strategy for General Motors to offer an automobile for every price range. The company had previously been stuck offering cars only in the mid-price range, and had lost considerable market share to Ford.

· Research. Sloan recognized that research was just as important as manufacturing and put both research and operations on the same organizational plane.

· Distribution. Sloan turned automobile dealers into business partners and simplified the process of distribution for General Motors.
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