When I served on the General Motors board, I had a chance to work with Bob Lutz. Bob came on board as Vice Chairman of General Motors, primarily working on product development. He’s written a new book, which has been covered in The Wall Street Journal. The excerpts tell about how Bob came on board GM … found that their culture was somewhat stifling. They had a lot of meetings, they didn’t make a lot of decisions, everybody was nice to everybody, but not much got done.
Then he compared the General Motors management style with that of Ferdinand Piëch, the chairman of Volkswagen, who was an autocrat who ordered people what to do and they got it done whether they thought it was right or not.
Bob then went on to talk about how he tried to put in a new approach to management at General Motors. He said working in product development he got some cars in from the competitors -- some of the best: Audis, Toyota and Lexus -- took his people into the shop floor and showed them how to better design products for General Motors. His bottom line was: it’s better to teach people and train people, rather than to order them around or to sit around and talk about this project without making decisions.
His bias for teaching and training is a similar bias that we have had at Marriott for some 84 years. We know that if we train and teach our associates, not only do they serve the guests better, but they also do a much better job of staying with the company. They feel comfortable in their work, they feel that they have entered the ladder of success and can go up that ladder to newer and better positions.
In my opinion, Bob’s on the right track. Teaching and training is far better than sitting around and pondering and not doing very much … or being an autocrat and ordering everybody what to do.
I’m Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the move.