General Motors CEO Mary Barra said at Fortune‘s “100 Most Powerful Women” conference recently that she is “on a mission to break down silos.” If The Detroit News‘ lukewarm reception of this news is any indication, Barra has her work cut out for her just trying to persuade the naysayers.
As The Detroit News points out, these are promises we’ve heard before from Barra’s predecessors at General Motors. Starting with Jack Smith, who attempted to globalize the brand following the demise of the Berlin Wall in 1989, all the way through Dan Akerson, who used his final Detroit News interview as CEO to advertise the reality of the General Motors culture change following the bailout, the road has been paved with good intentions.
So how does current CEO Mary Barra intend to bring about this General Motors culture shift? Through candor and tenacity, she says. She brands her predecessors as having been “too nice” in the face of the challenges of the past, with regard to the level of mediocrity and lackluster performance that they allowed while heading up the automaker. Barra states that she does not intend to lend so much leeway.
But then, as The Detroit News also points out, she’s every bit as much “Old GM” as her predecessors, having worked for the corporation since 1980 at the age of just 18.
In short, it will require not only time and effort, but also an ability to “work the crowd,” if CEO Mary Barra is going to finally deliver on the standing promises of the past.