(Readers: Please note the blog about the 5th revolution in the US is constructed as a story. While not all chapters are linked, the story might be more meaningful by starting at the beginning.)

(Want a PDF version for Entries #1-10, #11-20, #21-30 formatted for tablets and e-books?  Entries #31-40 available soon.  Click links for download.  America’s 5th Revolution Volume I (Entries 1-10)America’s 5th Revolution Volume II (Entries 11-20)America’s 5th Revolution Volume III (Entries 21-30)

Scene: Jordan’s Office.  Reporter assigned by POTUS’ office arrives.

Jordan:  “Matt, it has been a long time since we chatted.”

reporter on typewriter clipartMatt:  “I’m trying to think of the last time I interviewed you.  A lot less gray hair on both of us.  But, anyway does not matter.”

Jordan:  “You’re still with my favorite paper but most of the bylines are articles about technology.”

Matt:  “True but apparently POTUS read some earlier pieces I wrote on automotive and thought I was right for the job.”

Jordan:  “I’m delighted you’ve been assigned.”

Matt:  “Keep in mind I still want to be as objective as possible so you might get some pushback from me on certain issues.”

Jordan:  “Understood.  In fact, feel free to challenge me at any time.  The gist of the story is more about culture than anything else.  And my perspective.  Let me know if you think I am being too biased”

GM,_logoMatt:  “I’ll tell you what would help.  A short lesson in GM history.  Not all the gory details but an overview would really help me put the project in context.  And make sure you cover the financial results.  I know you think the issue is more culture but the financial results tell a story, too.”

Jordan:  “I agree that the financials tell a story.  A great story for many years.  Before we start the history lesson, are there any pressing issues?”

Matt:  “Yes.  This baffles me.  The ignition switch — how did GM ignore a safety problem with the switch for what 10 years?  How does that stuff happen?”

Jordan:  “My view is the failure to fix the ignition switch – a $1.00 part at most – is the culmination of 30+ years of a management team and Board of Directors focused on profits and not the customer.”

Matt:  “Your tone of voice tells me how angry you are.”

Jordan:  “Angry is an understatement.  A few clowns decided to ignore very strong evidence of a safety problem.  The cost to fix was less than $1.00.”

Matt:  “Why do you think they ignored the evidence?  The fix was, from all indications was simple and as you said, less than $1.00.”

Jordan:  “You tell me why they ignored it.  That kind of behavior qualifies GM as stupid and I think immoral.”

Matt:  “What about criminal?”

Jordan:  “I am not at Department of Justice and do not have all the facts.  But not to fix a known safety problem for $1.00.  What’s wrong with those people?”

Matt:  “Did you ever experience any decisions where cost overrode safety?”

Jordan:  “No.  Just the opposite.  I recall my days at Buick when we were going to add some piece of equipment that increased the weight of the car to a new category.  I don’t remember which car but the weight was only a couple of pounds over.”

Matt:  “What happened?”

Jordan:  “The tire-and-wheel engineer interrupted the presentation and said the car needed a larger tire and wheel to handle the added weight.”

Matt:  “Even though it was only a couple of pounds?  Was there any discussion or resistance?”

Jordan:  “None.  The guy had the power of a king.  When it came to safety, you did what he said.  No questions asked.”

Matt:  “So safety was an overriding concern.”

Jordan:  “Absolutely.”

Matt:  “What happened to that culture?”

Jordan:  “That is a key issue.  To help answer that question let’s go back to the beginning of General Motors.”

Matt:  “Alright.  But I need a break first.”

Jordan:  “So do I.  How ‘bout 10 minutes?”