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Comment: This book has already been loved by someone else. It MIGHT have some wear and tear on the edges, have some markings in it, or be an ex-library book. Over-all it is still a good book at a great price! (if it is supposed to contain a CD or access code, that may be missing)
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My Years with General Motors Paperback – October 1, 1990

4.4 out of 5 stars 69 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 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 (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #152,968 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a true business classic. In this book Alfred Sloan shares his years of wisdom - while heading General Motors - in a variety of areas including planning, strategy, finance, leadership, innovation and management. Alfred was a true pioneer of his time in building the discipline of management and his approach is just as applicable now as it was in the early 1900s.

Below are key lessons in the form of excerpts that I found particularly insightful from this must read classic.

1- "I feel that a proper balance can and must necessarily be established in the course of time between the activities of any particular Operation and that of all our Operations together and as I see the picture at the moment no better way or even as good a way has yet been advanced as to ask those members of each organization who have the same functional relationship to get together and decide for themselves what should be done where coordination is necessary, giving such a group the power to deal with the problem where it is felt that the power can be constructively applied. I believe that such a plan properly developed gives the necessary balance between each Operation and the Corporation itself and will result in all the advantages of co-ordinated action where such action is of benefit in a broader way without in any sense limiting the initiative of independence of action of any component part of the group."

2- "I am not going to say that rate of return is a magic want for every occasion in business. There are times when you have to spend money just to stay in business, regardless of the visible rate of return...Nevertheless, no other financial principle with which I am acquainted serves better than rate of return as an objective aid to business judgment.
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