Skip to comments.Driven off the Road by M.B.A.s
Posted on 07/10/2011 10:22:48 PM PDT by LibWhacker
Bob Lutz, the former Vice Chairman of General Motors, is the most famous also-ran in the auto business. In the course of his 47-year rampage through the industry, he's been within swiping range of the brass ring at Ford, BMW, Chrysler and, most recently, GM, but he's never landed the top gig. It's because he "made the cars too well," he says. It might also have something to do with the fact that Maximum Bob, who could double as a character on Mad Men, is less an éminence grise than a pithy self-promoter who has a tendency to go off corporate message. That said, his new book, Car Guys vs. Bean Counters: The Battle for the Soul of American Business, has a message worth hearing. To get the U.S. economy growing again, Lutz says, we need to fire the M.B.A.s and let engineers run the show.
(Excerpt) Read more at time.com ...
Fire the bean counters and let the engineers run the companies! That is so true. It has happened all across the United States, too, and not just in autos.
It has become less productive, a whole lot less fun and a helluva lot more useless paper and a whole helluva lot more time explaining what should be patently obvious to some dumb ass MBA or bean counter who some other dumb ass put in charge.
The only put the bean counters and MBAs in place because the engineers knew how valuable good people are an so wouldn’t let them go when some stupid fool decided to hire McKinsey or some other outfit to right size, down size or empower the company.
MBAs and bean counters are revenge by people who couldn’t get engineering degrees and didn’t like the command and control meted out by the WWII generation... poor babies.
And I forgot to mention lawyers but that is an even bigger, longer and more strongly worded rant.
So glad to see Texas make the loser pay in civil law suits. Maybe it WILL starve the bastards out.
If I had a child who became a tort lawyer... somebody would have to leave. Corporate lawyers are close behind.
Or an Elmore Leonard novel?
The Army Air Corps never made it to the end of WWII. They became the Army Air Force even before the war ended, and in 1947 became a separate branch of service, the Air Force.
McNamara & his whiz kids were Vietnam-era, certainly had nothing to do with the Army Air Corps (pronounced "corpse" if you're a marxist).
As for the whiz kids being the types that developed FedEx, wrong again. Fred Smith got a C minus on his paper outlining his hub-and-spoke idea for distributing packages overnight from one of those "whiz kid" type professors.
Our past four presidents have been Ivy Leaguers and W is an MBA. Maybe this guy has a point.
MBA’s are the capitalist equivalent of the old Confucian scholar-bureaucrat. The similarities between the two are actually scary. Isolate a portion of human experience, study it, apply some type of scholastic reasoning to it and whatever it is a better way to do it can be imposed. All in the face of existing doctrine, empirical experience and even common sense. Worked out great for the 20-odd Chinese dynasties.
No comment on bean counters, but the only thing greater than the conceit of an engineer is his lack of wit. See Schumpeter if you don’t believe!
My Dad was an engineer. From my perspective, I’ve noticed they are boring but make good husbands.
But Carter was an engineer. Look how well that worked out.
Carter was a stores officer on a submarine. He wasn’t any engineer that I know of.
That’s really funny! You just described by brother in law!
I am an engineer and though I disagree about the wit I do agree about the conceit.
So many engineers and physicists think they know everything. I spent many years working with some of the brightest in the world (not me, them) and very few lacked hubris. It was tough to work with many of them for that reason.
Thank you for echoing my sentiments exactly.
You’re correct about Army Air Corps and the “whiz kids” were definitely Vietnam...but, as a Captain, he did conduct statistical analysis on bombing raids for LeMay during WWII, mostly in the Pacific theater. I could tell you what I think about the SOB but my momma taught not to speak harshly about the departed...thankfully.
There was a 'whiz kids' group that became well known during WWII by addressing military matters, and then they branched off into other areas after the war. Not sure if McNamara was one of them.
So, what does Lutz want to do with engineers who also obtain MBAs, which has been a favored set of credentials for years now.
In the eighties there were some engineers who got MBA’s, and then bought into the idea that they were supposed to forget everything technical and just play buzzword bingo. The result was some of the most empty suit types. One such person became president of a company, and required everyone to slavishly pursue the yuppie image. Of course this was in the New York City area.
Had a Chrusler dealership when Lee Iacocca took over Chrysler and then he retired and we got Bob and he screwed up Chrysler. He was the problem.
To back up my #26
Toyota Corollas are boring as watching paint dry but they sure have sold a lot of 'em.
Just a side note about Bob Lutz. He was a Jet Fighter pilot I belive in Nam and as a civilian he purchased a Mig 15,I think, and when he flew it back to Detroit upon landing he forgot to lower the landing gears and slid to a stop.
Oh, dear God that's funny. Engineers run the show?
While I have little love for MBA's the idea of engineers running a car company leaves me speechless.
Engineers built Hughes Aircraft Company, the best electronics company in the world. When the MBA's took over there was no more Hughes. GM was at its best when an engineer ran the company.
Rubbish. The Navy recruits people to operate nuclear sub power-plants, and they call them "nuclear engineers." Closer to "train engineer" than design engineer.
Respectable trade career, but not an engineer who applies hard science to solve practical problems.
And don't try to sully the term "peanut farmer" by that association either! =)
Same here. Let the engineers make technical decision and the MBA's can make financial decision.
So was Hoover. Reagan studied economics and sociology at Eureka College.
Engineers are confident by nature and design.
When an engineer sends a rocket into space for the first time, do you want him to be wishy washy and have nagging doubts about success, or do you want him to be confident in his preperation and execution of all aspects of building the rocket?
How about building a new type of bridge for the first time. Is that the time for a touchy-feely, consensus building ninny or someone who takes control of every aspect and his certain of his own judgment, preparation, and design of the bridge and its expected performance when it is loaded with vehicles in a snowstorm during a hurricane or during an earthquake.
You bet engineers have to be confident in their judgment when they put their license stamp on their deisgn. Engineers are without a doubt pains in the ass in many ways but at the end of the day, we are problem solvers.
Most people ask, “Can we put a man on the moon.”
Engineers ask “HOW can we put a man on the moon.”
To an engineer, every problem is solvable and has a technical solution just waiting to be discovered. While some personality types are spinning their wheels trying to refine the question, an engineer is already working on obtaining the answer.
Yes, we are pains in the ass and too confident, but that is the nature of the beast. There is no time for doubting when that dam is built holding back hundreds of millions of gallons of water. You want that engineer confident that water will remain behind the damn and not washing away all the skyskrapers in your city center.
The Hoover dam holds 9 trillion gallons of water. I would think you would want a person of conceit who is CERTAIN that water will never come crashing through the face of the dam, rather than someone who isn’t quite sure.
Yes he was a technocrat all along. But the quote has him in charge of a team of "whiz kids" for the AAC, and that's blatantly false -- in fact it's beyond that, it's impossible.
From the article:
...in the postwar era, when Harvard Business School grad Robert McNamara and his "whiz kids" became famous for using mathematical modeling, game theory and complex statistical analysis for the Army Air Corps...