GM’s Comeback as Theater

Notes on Hubris

GM Sold Us on a Comeback. Don't Buy a CEO's Apology — Buy Cars That Are Safe

The Guardian

GM succeeded because America wanted it to, not because it had the ability to make safe cars. At least this is the argument put forth by Heidi Moore, who supports it with an HBS working paper by Susan Helper and Rebecca Henderson. In addition to calling out GM’s failure to understand the true nature of global competition among automakers, the duo cites hubris as a critical factor: Even as GM continued to make inferior vehicles, it believed it was a good company with a proud history. “GM play-acted, magnificently, at resilience,” Moore writes, with the government and the public complicit, all while the company continued to make cars that killed people. Instead of dreaming about a mythical past, GM needs to get beyond apologies and focus on the future: “Can GM actually make a car that’s safe to drive?”




Working Hard for the (Very Little) Money

The Myth of Working Your Way Through College

The Atlantic

A few of your older relatives may have told you how they paid their way through college by bagging groceries or painting houses. But today’s reality is that it would take a student 48 hours per week of minimum-wage work to pay for his or her education. According to a calculation for one university, the inflation-adjusted cost of a credit-hour is five times greater today than it was 35 years ago, when some of those relatives of yours were putting themselves through school by the sweat of their brows. In 1979, an industrious student could earn enough in a single day to pay for a credit-hour; today, paying for a credit hour takes 60 hours of minimum-wage labor. The solution, for many students, is loans loans loans, which translate into years of post-college penny-pinching or, in some cases, default. —Andy O’Connell




Wasn't that a Song in the Sixties?

Citigroup Says the "Age of Renewables" Has Begun

Greentech Media

The shale-gas boom in the U.S. has been a concern for low-carb (as in low-carbon) environmentalists, who worry that abundant, cheap natural gas will encourage us all to burn more carbon-polluting fuel and turn us away from sun and wind power. But a new report from Citigroup says gas’s volatile, rising price is making those alternatives more attractive to the U.S. power industry. And with coal and nuclear power being seen as uncompetitive on cost, solar and wind will “continue to gain market share” into the foreseeable future, Citi analysts say. It’s a trend that’s aided by investors’ realization that solar projects, in particular, offer low risk and a strong cash flow. There are a lot of acronyms to wade through in this Greentech Media piece, but there’s a palpable excitement that a new age has begun in the world’s biggest electricity market, and its name is “renewables.” —Andy O’Connell




Your Car Has Feelings, Too

How to Stop Worrying and Love the Robot That Drives You to Work

Kellogg Insight

A robot doing the work of a human makes a lot of us nervous. But does making a self-driving car more like a person cause the rider trust it? The short answer is yes, according to lab research conducted by Kellogg School business professor Adam Waytz and colleagues. Experiment participants riding in a highly realistic driving simulator programmed to steer and brake autonomously reported trusting the vehicle more when it was given a name, gender, and human voice than when it drove in exactly the same manner, absent human attributes. What’s more, the riders trusted the person-like car more when it suffered a minor accident caused by another driver, and they felt less stressed to boot. Waytz had expected people to blame the self-driving vehicle for any accident. But people gave the anthropomorphized car the benefit of the doubt, as if it were a person. —Andrea Ovans




The Bright Side

Livestrong Without Lance

Inc.

When Lance Armstrong was a hero, his Livestrong nonprofit raised hundreds of millions of dollars to help cancer patients and their families. After he stopped being a hero, the organization lost the support of Nike and RadioShack, revenue dropped, and 13 of its 100 employees resigned. Someone sent Livestrong a box of its iconic wristbands — cut into tiny pieces. That must have hurt. Would Livestrong ever be what it once was? Issie Lapowsky writes for Inc. that CEO Doug Ulman, himself a cancer survivor (three times, no less), has persevered, despite the sudden shrinking of the organization’s prospects. Ulman sees not only a role for Livestrong, but new opportunities, as long as people can be persuaded to stop comparing it to what it was. He’s doing things he wouldn’t have done in the good old days, such as exploring a partnership with a medical school to design a cancer center. The organization’s future, he says, could be even better than its past. Now that’s optimism. —Andy O’Connell




BONUS BITS

Notes on Social

U.S. Secretly Created ‘Cuban Twitter’ to Stir Unrest (AP)
When a Selfie Becomes an Endorsement (The Boston Globe)
This is What Happens When Facebook Controls the Signal, and it Defines You as the Noise (Gigaom)




source: GM’s Comeback as Theater April 04, 2014 at 05:00PM

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