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The Going Lean Fieldbook by Stephen A. RUFFA

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CHAPTER 1

Redefining the Competitive Solution

“WE’RE HERE TODAY because we made mistakes,” CEO Rick Wagoner said to the congressional committee. “And because some forces beyond our control have pushed us to the brink.”1

With this simple statement, the leader of General Motors—once the world’s most powerful manufacturer—essentially acknowledged defeat. The company found itself on the edge of disaster; it could remain afloat only if Congress agreed to give it tens of billions of dollars in taxpayer-funded bailouts—and even then its survival was anything but assured.

How could this titan of manufacturing have plunged into such crisis? Sure, the economy had suffered its worst decline in nearly a century. And with it, customers had simply stopped ...

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