Page last updated at 16:06 GMT, Friday, 10 July 2009 17:06 UK

GM seeks to change its culture

Fritz Henderson
Fritz Henderson heralded "a"new beginning" for the century-old carmaker

By Greg Wood
North America business correspondent

Chief executive Fritz Henderson today pledged to create a "customer obsession" at the new General Motors.

He's setting up a "Tell Fritz" website where consumers can share ideas, concerns and suggestions with him directly.

Directors will go on the road regularly to meet customers and others with a stake in the new GM. A partnership will be set up in California with eBay to sell vehicles online.

It's easy to dismiss, even ridicule, these changes. But they're more than purely cosmetic.

They seek to rectify a key failing of the old General Motors - its inward looking culture and bureaucratic management structure.

That bureaucracy is being tackled too.

A whole system of regional management boards in the United States will be eliminated.

Around 4,000 salaried staff jobs - 20% of the total - will be axed by the end of this year, including more than 400 senior executives.

These moves do not guarantee that General Motors will achieve its key objective - producing new and exciting models which US consumers will actually want to by.

But without this culture shift, the new GM doesn't stand a chance.

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