2008年，米特•罗姆尼在《纽约时报》（New York Times）上发表了一篇名为《让底特律破产吧》（Let Detroit Go Bankrupt）的专栏文章。他认为，如果无条件给予美国车企紧急救助，就等于让三巨头继续走死路，“那你们就可以彻底和美国汽车业吻别了”。不过近来，这位共和党大佬开始颇加赞许地把政府强制实施的结构性破产比喻为他在贝恩资本（Bain Capital）的工作。几天前他在南卡罗莱纳州表示：“美国总统在监管通用（GM）和克莱斯勒（Chrysler）上所做的工作与私募股权行业的做法类似。要想拯救一家企业，你必须砍掉旁枝末节，回到有助于企业收益的核心业务上。”
《华尔街日报》（Wall Street Journal）总编珍妮弗•克拉克的新书《阿涅利家族：菲亚特、克莱斯勒，以及一个王朝的力量》（Mondo Agnelli: Fiat, Chrysler, and the Power of a Dynasty）一书用新的视角审视了马基奥尼的管理方法。
In 2008, Mitt Romney wrote a New York Times op-ed titled "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt." He argued then that if the auto companies got a bailout, "you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye." Lately, however, the Republican frontrunner has begun to favorably compare the government-imposed structured bankruptcies to his work at Bain Capital. "What the president has done overseeing GM and Chrysler has been reminiscent of what people in the private equity industry do," he said a few days ago in South Carolina. "To try and save the business, you have to cut back to a core that matches the revenue of the business."
In fact, the restructured Chrysler is expected to report a net profit for the first time since 2006 when it releases its full-year results on Feb. 1. And it is not unfair to give the lion's share of the credit to one man: Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne. With his lightning-quick mind, boundless energy, and utter self-confidence, he took over the company, selected a management team, created a product plan, and established a set of performance targets. Chrysler's ability to hit them was a huge surprise to industry watchers who still don't have a clear idea of how he pulled it off.
For insight, they need only look back at Marchionne's turnaround at Fiat, when he made the Italian automaker profitable for the first time six years and extracted $2 billion from a cash-strapped GM (GM, Fortune 500) in the process.
New insight into Marchionne's methods are the core of a new book by the Wall Street Journal's longtime Rome bureau chief Jennifer Clark, Mondo Agnelli: Fiat, Chrysler, and the Power of a Dynasty.
An accountant and lawyer by training and a corporate manager by experience, Marchionne had no auto industry experience when the Agnelli family picked him to save the failing Fiat in 2004. As he would later do at Chrysler, Marchionne took matters into his own hands. He selected his own management team after months of walking around at the company, looking for energetic risk-takers and evaluating them on the spot. After picking his team, he sent 2,000 of his rejects off to early retirement.
Clark relates how Marchionne's next step was to put all of his executives together in one room to come up with a business plan. Having wiped out several layers of management, he now eliminated time-killing committees, replacing them with a Group Executive Council to bring together disparate operations like tractors and trucks. Then he formed a 24-person team to run Fiat Auto. The idea was to make Fiat quicker and more efficient by getting all parts of the company to talk to one another. Under the old system, Fiat's three brands -- Fiat, Alfa Romeo, and Lancia -- were run as separate business units that did their own hiring, purchasing, and engineering. "They didn't even share one screw," Clark quotes one engineer as saying. It was if the 1990s had never happened.
Just as deadly was Fiat's practice of putting car development entirely in the hands of engineers. When the engineers were done, they would throw the car "over the wall" to sales and marketing teams with instructions on how many to sell and at what price, Clark notes. It was a process that was guaranteed to be inefficient and to create disputes between different parts of the company.
The new life under Marchionne wasn't easy. Management committee meetings were often held on weekends, and on-the-spot firings were not unheard of. After one manager patted himself on the back for turning a big loss into a smaller one, Marchionne went after him. "I don't need people in here who are happy to lose money," Clark quotes him as saying. "I want people who culturally are all about making money. You are free to go."