I listened to the radio program "This American Life" yesterday while working in the garage sorting out some of my tools, and they had a very interesting story profiling General Motors and the experiment they had in terms of trying to improve the quality of their vehicles in a partnership with Toyota at the GM's California NUMMI plant. This effort occurred in the mid-1980s and I remember it very well.
It was interesting to hear the story, and if you are interested, you could listen to it here by following this link: "This American Life - NUMMI"
It is a very well done radio program.
In thinking back on it, unfortunately General Motors as well as all of the American car companies sure wrecked havoc on our society and nation. The first real rumbles of the impending disasters I recall occurred during the late 1960s into the early 1970s. But, then the sh*t really hit the fan so-to-speak with the oil embargos in the mid-1970s.
The most significant and horrific problems caused by General Motors though, occurred in the early 1980s. It was as this time that General Motor's management and mistakes virtually anihilated and destroyed much of the mid-west. Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, New York, Illinois, and Wisconsin were all tremendously affected, but no state suffered more than the state of Michigan. Most all of the major cities (Detroit, Flint, Jackson, Saginaw, and others) were decimated to such an extent that many of them have yet to recover.
Listening to the radio program helped me to remember those difficult times. If only GM had made a real, concerted effort to enact NUMMI across their whole industry, things may have turned out quite differently. If NUMMI would have become the "new norm" then I think all of the US automakers would have been far more capable of working through the 2007 recession without causing further heartache to many families.