As Daniel pointed out in the original post to this thread, Mary Barra is the primary driver for change at GM. This is actually counter-intuitive, since Ms. Barra has been working for GM for over 35 years. That being said, during her tenure at GM, she has held positions of responsibility in many different departments and has a wide-ranging understanding of the automotive industry. She began as an electrical engineer for GM, but has worked departments as varied as Global Manufacturing Engineering and Global Human Resources (General Motors, 2015). As a driver for change, Ms. Barra is a unique position. To external stakeholders, being the first female leader in the global automotive industry gives her instant credibility as someone willing to shake things up. To internal stakeholders, her lifelong career at GM conveys the message that she understands and respects the history of GM and the GM way.
In order to achieve, Ms. Barra must align the seven different variables in the 7-S model. Those variables include strategy, structure, systems, shared values, skills, staff, and style (De Kluyver & Pearce, 2012). Daniel already mentioned how Ms. Barra has affected many of the 7-S variables, especially as they relate to changes stemming from the ongoing ignition switch recall debacle. There has also been a structural change that has not been mentioned. In addition to hiring a new safety chief — a staff change — she has also created a new department to oversee “product integrity” within the development organization (Jusko, 2014). In effect, this is a pre-production quality assurance designed to ensure that poorly designed products never reach manufacturing. Quality assurance happening in both pre- and post-production is “belt and suspenders” approach to improving quality and safety.
In terms of sustainability, electric cars are a conundrum. Although they do reduce the emission of greenhouse gases by individual vehicles, the generation of electricity at power plants is still often produced by burning coal. The problem of emissions shifts from the vehicle to the power plant. This is a problem that can not be solved by GM. Fortunately, alternative sources of electrical production continue to grow. Chief among those is nuclear power. A recent report indicates that although nuclear power has lost popularity in some Western European countries, it still continues to grow in North America. Much of this growth is driven by the cost of capital. As long as the economy continues to grow and interest rates remain low, nuclear power has a bright future (Larson, 2015).
De Kluyver, C. & Pearce, J. (2012). Strategy: A View From the Top (4th ed.). Boston: Prentice Hall.
General Motors. (2015). About GM: Mary T. Barra. Retrieved September 15, 2015, from http://www.gm.com/company/corporate-officers/mary-barra.
Jusko, J. (November 14, 2014). CEO Mary Barra is Driving Culture Change at General Motors. IndustryWeek. Retrieved September 15, 2015, from http://www.industryweek.com/quality/ceo-mary-barra-driving-culture-change-general-motors.
Larson, A. (September 8, 2015). Nuclear Power’s Future Is Still Bright, According to IAEA Report. Retrieved September 15, 2015, from http://www.powermag.com/nuclear-powers-future-is-still-bright-according-to-iaea-report/.