Ed Whitacre, from San Antonio, became the acting CEO of GM earlier this week. Reuters asked Ross Perot about how well he thinks his fellow Texan will fare, given Perot’s own difficulties working with GM in the 1980s:
“I disagreed with what they were doing,” Perot told Reuters in a telephone interview on Wednesday. “Then suddenly, they just didn’t want anybody around to point out what we needed to do. They decided to get rid of the nuisance.”
Perot described the GM culture back then as “insulated” and “aloof”:
The first time Perot hosted GM executives at EDS in Texas after the acquisition, they were shocked, he said.
“We went to lunch and we got in line and they almost fainted,” Perot said. “They couldn’t believe I ate in the cafeteria and that I had to go to the back of the line.”
They were also surprised how good the food was, and that’s the point, Perot said. When company executives are treated the same way as the frontline workers, quality rises, he said.