The GMS Defiance

by Johnny Debacle

Mr. Wagoner was greeted with a standing ovation, according to people at the meeting. Employees said they were proud of Mr. Wagoner for defying calls for resignation and insisting the company would not file for bankruptcy protection. Yet at the same time, his resignation Sunday in exchange for financing needed to save the auto maker was characteristic of his devotion to the company he’d joined after graduating from Harvard Business School in 1977.

I find it difficult to reconcile the above with the below.

I hate to be objective and even somewhat supportive of what I see as frightening interventionalism by the Government, but Wagoner simply did not get the job done and has created a large enough sample size of performance for this to be clear. He, like Walter Noel, may have been a great guy, a veritable Jimmy Stewart reborn or Jesus back on Earth, but at his job as CEO of GM he failed and that is the way in which he matters. Not only that, but if you were to overlay a graph of his personal net worth over that chart of GM’s stock price, I bet they would demonstrate a negative correlation. And he should have some humility given that he was ever even named CEO because of how he was named at birth — namism at its worst.

Recommendation: I like defiance, and not just as the name of a battleship. I like the principle of not giving in, of fighting until you die, of righting the unrightable wrong, of marching into Hell for a heavenly cause. But let’s save the celebration for meritorious defiance, like General Anthony McAuliffe or Winston Churchill, as opposed to pridefully clinging to your job or refusing to file a company who could benefit from it.

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