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Frozen Rock Solid

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FROZEN ROCK-SOLID
At General Motors of Canada Ltd., Nick Vanderstoop is in charge of implementing a system that he created to prevent the “erosion of knowledge”. He loves to scare the daylights out of GM executives and managers by telling them a true story about the company. The story goes something like this: Several years ago a worker at the head office of General Motors Canada Ltd. In Oshawa retired. Among the many tasks that were performed by him, one was particularly important. Every fall he would spend about an hour sending messages to inform others that certain freezable chemicals like upholstry cleaners must be shipped in heated trucks during the winter. A few months after he retired, the parts distribution centre in Woodstock, Ontario, began to receive calls from angry customers across Canada who were upset because the chemicals they were receiving were frozen rock-solid. The reason: nobody in the company knew enough about the retiree’s job to make sure that the chemicals were properly transported during the winter. A minor oversight? Not quite. It cost the company $1.5 million. Other incidents at GM have also been reported. For example, 400 perfectly good carburetors were accidently destroyed at a cost of $300,000 because the worker who kept them off the scrap list retired. It has also been reported that a $250,000 car prototype was crushd into scrap metal because the employee who was responsible for it was transferred. Incidents like these are known to occur at other companies. (Source: Livesey, B (1997, November). Glitch doctor. Report on Business Magazine, pp.96-102. Reprinted with permission of Bruce Livesey.

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1. Why do you think this is an important story to tell company executives and managers? What is the main point of the story? I believe this is an important story to tell company executives and managers because it reminds them of the importance of actually managing their departments and staff. By having an understanding... Show More

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