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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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent accounting of the organization and structure of GM by the man who contributed much!Published 1 month ago by Thomas C. Lyon
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 9 months ago by Oktay Altindis
I bought it from China, and the delivery was very fast! I love it !Published 11 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 16 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 17 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 18 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 18 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 18 months ago by Zack Brown