I have a good deal of respect for Mr Alfred P Sloan.
He rescued GM in the depression of the 1920’s.
He built the company into the largest corporation on the planet.
And he poured many millions of his own money into a philanthropic organization that still bears his name.
He did, however, a couple of less good things:
- He (allegedly) was pretty friendly with a small German guy with an attitude problem and a small mustache
- He invented “planned obsolescence”
Now, this concept (planned obsolescence) was pretty crucial to GM’s success and – from a business point of view – was a very smart thing to do.
In essence, prior to the mid 1930’s (and following Henry Ford’s edict – and made real by Karl Daimler and Gottlieb Benz) a car was to built to last.
And in the case of Daimler and Benz, last a very long time.
Ford’s motives were: “Replace everyone’s horse with a car.”
The Germans’: “Build the best engineered car.”
But GM’s was: “Don’t have last year’s model, have THIS year’s model.”
Epitomized by this great Doyle Dane VW ad “Auto Show” from 1970: