GUTS: The Seven Laws of Business That Madethe World's Hottest Car Company
By Robert A. Lutz, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., $24.95.
This is the book you would expect from Bob Lutz: short, lively, contrarian, full of common sense observations and a terrific read. It's not
Alfred Sloan's My Life with. Neither is it as salacious as the Starr Report.
For example, Mr. Lutz doesn't dump on Lee Iacocca, who kept him from reaching the very top ofCorp. He doesn't reveal any great secrets. He doesn't take all the credit.
Robert Lutz's youth was amazing: growing up in Switzerland and having so much fun or getting into so much trouble that he was 22 when he graduated from high school. His banker-father then insisted he join the U.S. Marines where he became a fighter pilot. After a decade he left the Marines with a burned-in sense of duty and honor.
Mr. Lutz is Detroit's ultimate car guy. He learned the business in Europe working forCorp., and AG and Motor Co., climbing high, then jumping to Lee Iacocca's Chrysler where he rose to president and then vice chairman.
But more than that, he was the spirit of a fighting Chrysler in the dark days a decade ago. That's part of his book, the bad times and the recovery. He tells the story of the Viper ("zero to jail in four seconds was this car's message"), the car that symbolized the company's can-do willpower to Detroit, to Wall Street and its own workers.
"I'm frequently asked - especially by the Japanese who worship research - what process of market analysis led us to Viper's design," he writes. "There was none. I'd love to say we did a careful study and found that a huge segment of the ... public was just dying for a $50,000 car with no door handles, no real top, no windows, a big gas guzzler, no factory air, no C/D player, no automatic transmission, a steering column borrowed from the Jeep Cherokee, room for barely two people and next to no luggage space. But we didn't do a survey.
"We just decided it might be nice for a change to let our most impassioned car buffs design a car to suit their tastes."
Then there are his seven "Immutable Laws of Business:"
n The Customer Isn't Always Right.
n The Primary Purpose of Business Is Not to Make Money.
n When Everybody Else Is Doing It, Don't.
n Too Much Quality Can Ruin You.
n Financial Controls Are Bad.
n Disruptive People Are an Asset.
n Teamwork Isn't Always Good.
He tells of what certainly must have been the hardest moment in his career: the arrival of outsider Robertin 1982 to take the top job at Chrysler that many thought Mr. Lutz had earned.
At the press conference when Mr. Iacocca announced Mr.'s selection, it was all this proud man could to do to contain his disappointment. Cameras kept flashing. Painful questions kept coming. Over the next months when many, both inside and outside of Chrysler, expected him to bolt, he kept his ego in check and his leadership focused.
"I considered myself a team player, and as such, I saw no reason whatsoever to pack up my ball and go home just because somebody else had been named captain of the team," he writes.
You never made that last step to the top, Bob. But we know what you did.
And you tell a good story, too. - Review by Jerry Flint.