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Guts: 8 Laws of Business from One of the Most Innovative Business Leaders of Our Time Hardcover – September 26, 2003

4.2 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Read it for no other reason than to learn Bob's Seven Immutable Laws of Business.... This is vintage Bob--contrarian, thoughtful, and he's really fun to read."

From the Inside Flap

What do you do with a book that’s filled with controversial, counterintuitive, and downright contrarian statements that stand conventional wisdom on its ear and claim, lightheartedly, to be immutable "laws of business?" If the author is Robert Lutz, you read the book very carefully, probably several times, learn all of the "laws" by heart, and follow them to the letter every chance you get. You also find yourself laughing out loud, shaking your head in wonder, and nodding in agreement.

Revised and updated, this is a maverick’s primer on the business philosophy that revolutionized Chrysler and is now powering dramatic new product development at General Motors. In it, Lutz reexamines his iconoclastic maxims to see how they have withstood the test of time. With hard evidence, hilarious anecdotes, and his characteristic frankness, the high-flying chairman of GM North America challenges his own contention that businesses should deliberately construct a "schizophrenic" corporate culture that combines rock-solid financial controls with a highly creative, no-holds-barred product development process.

Concluding that his laws have served him well and are generally reliable in any business situation and any industry, he goes on to explain why:

  • The customer isn’t always right
  • The primary purpose of business isn’t "to make money"
  • When everybody else is doing it, don’t
  • Too much quality can ruin you
  • Financial controls are bad
  • Disruptive people are an asset
  • Teamwork isn’t always good

If Lutz’s first seven laws aren’t provocative enough for you, wait until you read the new one that he formulated for executives charged with managing mergers and takeovers or rehabilitating failing companies. Suffice it to say, it involves the use of a flamethrower.

Enriched by Lutz’s deep store of business wisdom acquired over three-plus decades in the automobile industry, Guts combines a fascinating, behind-the-scenes look at some of the most important events in the industry’s history, with an outside-the-box view on the nature of leadership and success. This insightful, unorthodox, and thoroughly enjoyable discourse will change the way you think about product development and marketing, financial management, strategy, and managing people. It will redefine the way you think about success–and make you all the more eager and likely to achieve it.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (September 26, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471463221
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471463221
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.9 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #430,450 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book is a refreshing collection of straightforward thoughts and observations about business and leadership from one of the most seasoned, creative, colorful, and highly successful executives of our time-Robert A. Lutz, Chairman of General Motors North America. This revised and updated book contains the blunt, honest wisdom of an authentic maverick leader in the form of his laws of business that have stood the test of time over his thirty years in the car industry, and his rise to the top of Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler.

Organized into three parts, the book opens with the story of Chrysler's second turnaround in the early 1990s. Lutz was part of the executive team that conceived and brought to life one of the most famous and successful muscle cars of all-time: the Viper. Part Two is an in-depth review and validation of Lutz's eight immutable laws of business. The final part is Lutz's corollaries to his laws, or, as he calls them, "The Rest of the Story!"

A former Marine with an ongoing, life-long love affair with the Marine Corps and its leadership practices, Lutz presented many business and leadership concepts and personal anecdotes that reflected and blended his business and Marine Corps backgrounds. From his beliefs about the need for attention to detail and critical performance evaluations, to his emphasis on holistic, empowered, cross-functional teams and the value of a culture that nurtures middle-management dissent of conventional wisdom in open forums, Lutz's insights and experiences were both entertaining and informative.

If the following lists of Lutz's business laws and corollaries even sound remotely appealing to you, read this book - you will not be disappointed.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
this is a very good book for anyone in business. Some of the points apply well to life in general also.
Lutz is very forward and does not sugar coat any of his opinions. If you don't agree with his viewpoint, I can see how you might get offended. I thought most if not all of his views were in line with my own, so I enjoyed the book thoroughly.
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Format: Hardcover
This book presents the 8-plus rules on how to run a successful business (and life) from a former GM Vice Chairman of Product Development. Robert Lutz presents a highly autobiographical, hypercritical, look at his career and how these laws he developed for himself can apply to anyone.

While the information may be a little dated, (the book was originally published in 1998, republished in 2003) the principles are universal and apply well to anyone looking for a little coaching in business. It is a lot easier to get into the book if you are a fan of cars, and to a lesser extent, military history. Lutz peppers a lot of his life experiences to get the point across, admitting freely that he wasn't always (and sometimes still isn't) the best example for focus, discipline, or innovative thinking. His own experiences with failing in school, joining the US Marine Corps, and dealing with car companies in Europe and the US helped to shape his 8 rules and 4 corollaries.

The most interesting part is a very candid and detailed breakdown of the creative process that gave birth to the Dodge Viper, and the admission that it wasn't exactly a car that was begging to be made, but by making it, it changed the culture of a car company and like any fine work of art, found its proper audience.
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Fortunately Bob Lutz has improved as a writer since 1998. Unfortunately he wrote this book in 1998.

If you enjoyed Car Guys vs. Bean Counters and plan to buy this book to get a more complete picture of Lutz's ideas - don't do it. It is the same story, not as well told, with a focus on Chrysler instead of General Motors.

The parallels are everywhere. When he was with Chrysler he saw the Viper as the car that should represent the company in consumers' minds, not the Neon. At GM he saw the Corvette in that role, not the Malibu. After preaching, in both books, the critical importance of having good products to sell, he blames Chrysler's sales decline after it was purchased by Daimler on bad publicity. He blames the more recent GM sales decline that led to their eventual bankruptcy on the federal government. This could be the basis for Law 9. - Don't accept responsibility for your failures; find someone else to blame.

Only one quarter of the book is spent on the 8 Laws of Business in the title. They are all stated in sensational terms that Lutz spends the forward and half of that section of the book explaining. The biggest disappointment in this section is his discussion of rule 4. Too Much Quality Can Ruin You. The Neon as a perfect example of this concept - give each market segment only the level of quality that those buyers will pay for. Instead Lutz uses this chapter to explain that his definition of quality is not the absence of defects but the ability of a car to delight its buyers.

The last half of the book is the usual list of things in society that cranky old business executives love to whine about - environmentalists, trial lawyers, the media, public education, business buzzwords, casual business dress, misspelled words, and hippies at Berkley. Lutz adds the difficulty of getting a good martini at expensive restaurants in Europe to the list. His solution to society's ills is Marine Corps officer training for everyone.
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