Admit This

Memo to The Big 3

The smartest guys in the room weren't the CEOs of GM, Ford, and Chrysler when the Big 3 leadership made their first beggar's appeal for a bailout before Congress. Imagine going to a bank (one that's still in business) to request a loan for your business and not bringing a business plan with you! You would be either asked to leave or laughed at (or both, not necessarily in that order). That's exactly what the Big Bozos did in their first congressional appearance. Now they've come back with some plans and a bigger tin cup.

What a waste. What they should have done was to solicit business model solutions from students at America's business schools. Forget the economic “experts" like Greenspan, Paulson, and Bernanke. These guys obviously don't know what they're doing either. The real knowledge and power lies with the business students, in my opinion, or possibly the wide-open general public.

What has Netflix done to solve one of its biggest challenges? They've turned to you and me, offering The Netflix Prize. They didn't hire a big consulting firm; they just tapped the most logical source of solution wisdom: the public at large. I say ditto for The Big 3, although I'm sure that they would view this as being beneath them.

Here's how I would do it:

Have The Big 3 join forces as a unified front. Put together simple (repeat: simple) Request for Proposal (RFP) guidelines and then post it on a Web site ( and issue press releases to all the media. Offer a $3,000,000 cash prize (a cool million from each carmaker) for the winning proposal. RFP submission would be limited to currently enrolled business school students (documentation required). Deadline: June 30, 2009. Winner announced: December 31, 2009.

The winning plan would then be presented to Congress as support for bailout funds, to be shared jointly by the Big 3. I'll guarantee you that the winning plan would be cleverer and more effective than anything Congress or The Big 3 Bunglers could ever conceive.

This solution is so apparent. Let's give tomorrow's leaders a chance today. Our current leaders have proven that they're incapable of leading anything or anyone, even themselves.

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