As some U.S. automakers face inevitable restructuring, the key questions are what should they become? What is the best way to do it? The answer depends on what battle they think they are fighting. In simplest terms: should they build better cars? Build cars better? Build cars?
Consider the battles U.S. automakers have fought against the Japanese and other automakers. How has Detroit done in: design? quality? productivity? brand building? Given the steady loss of market share and margin, they seem to be losing. There are a variety of reasons, some of their own making and some not.
There is one battle worth winning more than the others - the battle of ideas. U.S. automakers need to outperform the competition in one definitive way - systematically develop and deploy a steady, uninterrupted stream of novel ideas and inventions across all aspects of their business. At the risk of falling deep into the "easier-said-than-done" category, I offer my blueprint for change for U.S. automakers: reframe, retrain, and redeploy...a model based on my own experience.