General Motors CEO Mary Barra appeared before a Senate panel once again Thursday to discuss the company’s flawed ignition switches and vowed that GM will “do all it can to make certain that this does not happen again.”
In terms of damage control, much of what Barra and GM appear to be doing right now is positive: fessing up about product failures, bringing in outside investigators and firing employees that failed to take appropriate measures.
And while these are important steps, they amount only to a good, if somewhat belated, crisis management strategy. In fact, these efforts pale against the very real organizational challenges that lay ahead for GM and Barra. In order make good on her promise to Congress, Barra must prevent the kinds of engineering failures that caused the ignition problems in the first place and the organizational failures that propelled the problem to its current tragic magnitude. And that will mean changing the culture at GM.
Engineers like to be right. They like to prove that they have the correct answer.
Highly trained and highly motivated to solve problems, at the point of releasing a design or demonstrating a model or a prototype, everything in them is wired to prove that they’ve arrived at the right answer. The premium is so high on being “right” that even when data starts proving them wrong, they work to show that they are right somehow. They seek to explain what is happening is an exceptional outlier or an aberration; not that it is a sign of a problem. Read More »
Stopping the spread of Ebola as quickly as possible is crucial. Several disjointed paths seem to be in motion, both regionally and globally. Last month’s Africa Summit in Washington DC touched on it but did not have all Ministers of Health present, and individual African countries have issued scattered curfews but no effective travel bans on citizens in affected areas. The WHO continues to issue warning statements of varying levels of severity, most recently with a casualty figure of 10,000 deaths, which may not impress those who realize that seasonal influenza kills scores more—so should we not worry, then? Meanwhile, many, especially in Africa, are looking to the WHO for more than predictive statistics. The WHOs recently published 26-page Ebola Response Roadmap makes but a small dent in this disease. Read More »
The 2014 World Cup has captured the attention of billions of viewers around the globe. For a short period of time, the world will be collectively watching the same events on a massive scale.
MIT Sloan’s Evan Apfelbaum suggests that it is the shared attention that makes these games so emotionally compelling, especially with the United States Men’s National Team making the amazing run out of the group stage.
In a collaborative effort with researchers from all around North American universities, they found that emotional events like the World Cup were found to be more intense when viewed simultaneously with other group members.
In this podcast, Evan touches on the idea of shared attention and the social implications it has on the world’s game on the world’s biggest stage.
President Obama’s deeply personal thoughts have filled the air and blogosphere with renewed calls for that serious conversation about race we keep meaning to have in this country. But for any such conversation to occur, let alone succeed, the president noted, white Americans must recognize that African-Americans look at race relations “through a set of experiences and a history that doesn’t go away.”
As a white liberal who has just published a book about my own experiences with Chicago’s civil rights movement in the 1960s, I too have been struck by how personal experience influences not just my view of specific incidents, but by how the baseline of how we discuss race has shifted. Just over my own life span, I have seen that as a nation, we have been able to move the race conversation forward — even if we don’t always recognize at the time that we are doing so. Read More »