Some of you may know that I used to work in the automotive industry in one of several IT departments. I usually don't like to talk about work much on the blog because, well, I like to keep my work separate from my home life as much as I can. Lately, though, I can't help but feel a shadow pass along when I think of the good men and women who were laid off from their jobs. It's no secret that the automotive industry made some serious mistakes (not planning for the eventual decline in SUVs, scuttling lower-profit small cars, etc), but the accounts are always settled layoffs, belt-tightening reductions, and other shows of leadership in order to keep investors happy. When I worked in the automotive industry, there were always talk on layoffs, retirement packages, and even pay cuts (two of which I experienced first-hand, my layoff in 2001, and a pay reduction in 2008). It sickens me when I hear talk of letting the US automotive industry pass into extinction. What the US auto industry needs is not extinction, but a good paddling, provided by stern leadership that has long-term goals for the company that include their workforce. It requires a technology plan which allows for information to flow to all sectors of the company, unrestricted by political bullcrap. It requires dealer networks that are willing to work with the auto companies instead of being adversarial. It requires a belief self-sustainability is far more important than maintaining a network of suppliers.
In short, it requires some radical rethinking of the way the automotive industry is currently headed. Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, there's neither the guts to weather the storm, nor the will to turn the ship around.
It's disgusting to know it might have been different with a little more long-term thinking, but that seems to be the root of our current economic crisis: The short-term profitability won out over the long-term viability.
And unfortunately, because of the foolishness of a few terrible leaders, many folks who worked with me in the automotive industry (both at home and offshore), are now looking for work.
Somehow in this climate, I doubt Henry Ford would need a jump-start to turn over in his grave.