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Without (re)ALIGNment

Without (re)ALIGNment

We drove to Michigan last Sunday, made a quick stop in formerly grand Detroit. GM headquarters is to the right, a once proud icon of US Business Know-How, now an almost eerie hull in the middle of a half-deserted downtown.

Motor City. Birthplace of the Model T, the assembly line that made products cheap and workers middle class. If 19th century industrialization boasted textile mills as icons, the 20th century story of American manufacturing supremacy could point to "best-in-class" companies like GM. Or at least right up to the moment that taxpayers stepped in and saved their sorry butts in 2009. 

What happened? Maybe arrogance killed curiosity, maybe bloated bureaucracy displaced entrepreneurial hunger. Maybe decision makers were internally focused and blind to external trends, ignoring their customers' and workers' needs and wants around the world. 

Or maybe the story of the U.S. auto industry is simply one of companies (unions included) that didn't align their organizations around what matters. They didn't align both worlds - analysis and creativity, manufacturing might and marketing genius through good old leadership. Crisis might open eyes to make this happen again. Not just in the auto industry, but across America, entrepreneurs and corporate managers might align both worlds again. 

In consumer businesses, you have to align the head and the heart. You have to build an engine for profitable growth, and inspire and fuel a passion for success. 

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