Miller’s Monday Morning Message

Andrew MillerMiller’s Monday Morning Message
presented by ACM Consulting Inc.

Andrew Miller on operational excellence, strategy, life balance and everything in between

Toronto – October 12, 2015

VW has a tremendous opportunity to innovate in the way it operates. This emissions crisis affords them an opportunity to look at every aspect of the organization and change it.

Too often, when faced with an issue (especially very public ones), leaders focus on fixing the problem instead of leveraging the problem to do something completely different. Follow me here…..typically in VW’s situation, the new CEO will do a few things:

  • Find out who was complicit in the scandal and suspend or fire them
  • Implement new processes so that this kind of thing will never happen again
  • Add additional layers of approval and oversight within the company’s structure
  • Feverishly apologize to customers and promise it will never happen again

Fixing the problem actually puts the company in a worse position. It is now less flexible, more bureaucratic, and more risk averse.

But what if the new CEO leveraged the issue to innovate? If that was the case, he might:

  • Enhance the technology VW used for cheating and offer it to all governing bodies in the global car industry so no car company could cheat on emissions tests
  • Improve the technology so car owners could track their own emission use to help reduce it
  • Take the position that the standard emissions test needs to be stricter or completely changed or even discarded, since it is so easy to manipulate the data

Do you see the difference? Which company would you rather support? The one that follows the same path as everyone else, or the one that uses their situation as a launching pad for bigger and better things? That’s the difference between mediocrity and excellence.

Looking for more insights?
Check out my podcast series called Hockey Management, where I use hockey as an analogy for successful business results.
Prefer watching videos? The take a look at my short videos providing operational excellence tips.
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VW sold its soul to the capitalist devil

VW is an easy company to write about these days because of the emissions test “cheating” that took place. With most organizations in this situation, I would say that they will recover fairly quickly and within a year or two be back to where they were.

I don’t think this will be the case for VW. With this emissions cheating, VW has rocked its’ loyal customer base to the core. These customers love VW for its flower-bearing Beetles and its environment-sustaining engines. VW was supposed to be the earthy car company that made you feel good about buying driving. Like you were actually helping the environment while all other cars were hurting it.

That perception has been destroyed. It’s like a leader getting voted into office on a certain platform, and then reversing his or her position on controversial issues once elected. VW owners feel like they have been duped.

It’s not about fixing the cars….that part is easy. VW has destroyed any loyalty it had with customers. It succumbed to greed and capitalism, which it was supposed to be immune to.

People can forgive a PR mistake or a bad decision….those happen all the time. I’m not sure people can forgive a decision that goes completely against what an organization was supposed to stand for. Imagine UNICEF choosing to let children die or the YMCA discriminating based on race or colour. That would be unheard of.

But here you have a car company that built its’ reputation on sustainability and making our world a better place, lying about the emissions its’ cars give off so it could sell more cars. Does it get much worse than that?

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