Extraordinary Team Blog

The GM Nod is Still No Excuse

Posted by Kristin Arnold on June 16, 2014

The internal report on GM’s decade-long failure to recall cars with a deadly safety hazard ascribes the appalling incompetency to “the GM nod”.  The report describes the GM nod to be “when everyone nods in agreement to a proposed plan of action, but then leaves the room with no intention of following through.”

That continual nodding of the head contributed to at least 13 deaths in more than 50 crashes.

That’s just downright criminal.

Unfortunately, it happens all the time – with less than deathly consequences, but the “nod” happens all the time.

I was at a small breakfast cafe and asked for decaffeinated coffee (those who know me know that I drink alot of coffee in the morning, and it just so happens to be decaf so I won’t be wired for the rest of the day).  The waitress responded that they didn’t have decaf – although she admitted that many people request decaf.   (Watch the head nod….and nothing will happen.)

That restaurant is leaving money on the table.

Or the instance when I was at a hotel and the ice machine was out of order.  I had to climb up and down two flights of stairs to get some ice.  Not a big deal, but an inconvenience.  Upon checkout, the front desk manager asked me, “How was your stay?”  I told him about the non-functioning ice machine and the tattered sign that directed me to a properly working ice machine two floors away.  (Watch the head nod….and the ice machine “out of order” sign will stay posted).

That hotel is not paying attention to the details.  What else are they not paying attention to?

In comparison to the GM debacle, these items are insignificant.  However, the GM nod is pervasive.  Just watch it in action around you.

It bothers me that the GM nod is being used as an excuse.  I’m delighted to report that GM CEO Mary Barra vowed to change the culture saying, “This is about our responsibility to act with integrity, honor and a commitment to excellence.  To excel – to truly build the best auto company for our customers – we have to change our behavior as well.”

She goes on to say, “We have to personalize this challenge.  Quality and safety aren’t someone else’s responsibilities.  they are mine.  They are yours. We all must feel a personal responsibility to see that this company excels at every level.”

I wish her well – it’s going to be a long and hard road to change the GM culture – and I wish that all of us would speak up when we see the “nod”.

Source: USA Today