Dear Mr. Henderson,
The first car I remember was my parents’ 1973 Chevrolet Malibu. They followed it up with purchases of a Buick SkyHawk and later an Oldsmobile Cutlas Cruiser. My dad bought a Chevette in 1984 as a commuting car. My first car was a 1977 Chevrolet Caprice Classic.
I have an incredibly emotional connection to those cars. I remember road trips in the Malibu from Connecticut to Virginia every summer to see my grandparents. The Buick probably saved my family’s life in an accident. My mother taught me to drive in the Olds. The Caprice is still my favorite car I’ve ever owned.
Last night on NBC Nightly News, Ray Young said of remaking the “new” GM, “We’ve got a lot of experts working with us – advisors, bankruptcy counsel…”
As you listen to them, I encourage you to broaden the conversation to include your customers. They have a perspective on GM no one else can provide. They found their independence in your cars. They brought their first child home from the hospital in your cars. They fell in love with you. Ultimately, your customers are the ones who will bring GM back to profitability.
The restructuring of GM is not merely a financial reorganization. Behind all the number crunching and tough decisions you and your team will make in the coming months, there are incredible stories of customers’ connections to your brands. I hope you will listen to their stories and let them inspire you to rebuild GM in their image.
GM is greater than the sum of its debt, pension and healthcare obligations. GM makes beautiful cars and creates unforgettable memories. We all want to see you succeed. GM is a part of our collective culture and personality.
Mine are just a small handful of experiences. Your customers have an endless supply. They are here to help. They will share their stories, they will offer you advice, and they will tell you what others around you won’t.
Involving your customers in your restructuring sends a message of empathy to all those who are rooting for you. That you get it. That you’re in this role as much to listen as you are to lead. I ask you and welcome your response, “Will you listen?”