An open letter to General Motors on the eve of a Saab sale (that means the sale is really close)

Dear General Motors big boys,
I’m going to write this slowly so there’s a better chance you’ll understand it. OK?
You’ve had an interest in Saab since late 1989 (yes, really!) and full control of Saab since 2000. In that time you’ve benefitted a great deal (made your cars better) from Saab’s expertise in safety, flex-fuel technology, turbocharging and quite possibly design as well. If you’re not sure what those things are, just ask one of your engineers.
And since you’ve had full control of Saab you’ve brought just one new model to market (although well done to you for allowing a new 9-5 and 9-4x to be developed on the brink of what could have been Saab’s extinction).
You’ve let journalists (people who write things about cars) constantly talk about Saab with the words “Swedish loss-making unit” in front of their name. I’m surprised that doesn’t appear on the Saab badge now. Don’t tell me you didn’t think about it, you scallywag!
You’ve allowed a once-proud brand to settle into an under-funded GM malaise of mediocrity in terms of product and brand management and you’ve managed to alienate thousands of very loyal fans. Sorry, there were a lot of big words in that sentence.
You’ve managed to set an entire city on edge. It’s called Trollhattan and it’s a beautiful city full of wonderful, very intelligent people. Have you been there?
Never mind all that. Now’s your chance to leave a legacy at Saab. Now’s your chance to do one thing right.
This is the important bit……
Mr GM Executive: Sitting somewhere on your desk are three files. One is from Renco. Another is from Koenigsegg and the third is from China. You might have already placed the Chinese folder in the rubbish bin. Good for you! You’re half way there already.
Now you just need to select one more to join it and we’ll have an outcome. The purpose of this letter is to make sure it’s the right outcome.
The folder from Renco – that’s a baaaaaaaaaad folder. It might contain a lot of large numbers in it and that might make your eyes light up. But the guy who wrote it isn’t always a nice fellow, despite his nice dinner jacket and the five jacuzzis you partied in last weekend.
That guy’s made a habit out of dirtying things up and making people sick in their workplace, even in their homes. If you give Saab to him then it’s quite likely that Saab will have a very difficult time upholding their environmental credentials. I don’t think it’s a stretch to suggest that many of the current PR people at Saab would find their work incredibly stressful, with Saab’s sales suffering as a result.
If Saab’s sales suffer, that means they buy less widgets and whatsits from you. And that’s baaaaaaaaaaad.
The other folder is from a guy with a funny last name – Koenigsegg. Like Saab, they’re from Sweden. They have some neighbors helping out with funding but the latest rumours from a newspaper in Sweden (newspaper – what your assistant reads you the funnies from in the morning) is that they’ve got lots of money lined up.
Koenigsegg build really cool cars that go really fast. Kinda like the Corvette. Only more exotic. The fact that they’re Swedish is seen by a lot of people as a really positive thing. The fact that they make super-doopercars is also seen as a really positive thing.
It’s quite a contrast, really (contrast – one thing being very different from the other. Think of your bank balance and then think of Toyota’s).
If you sell Saab to Renco, Saab’s PR people have to try and sell Saab as a company belonging to a major world polluter. I’m sure they’ll do a good job of it and I’m sure many of us can get used to it. But it’s baaaaaaaaaaad.
On the other hand, if you sell to Koenigsegg, you’ll be a real life American hero!!!!
And that’s goooooooood. Like ice cream. Mmmmmmmm.
Now. Back to your desk. You’ve got work to do. Make sure you do this one thing right and sell Saab to the right people.
from Steven.
ps – if you don’t feel like you have the right people lined up to buy Saab, then ask Saab’s own people who the right people are. Here’s a tip – Saab’s management have to work with these new owners and they’re very competent (good) at what they do. They will recognise other competent people too!

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