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"403: The NUMMI story" icon

403: The NUMMI story

This story, produced by This American Life, is a fantastic example of trying to make significant changes in a workplace. Here's the description...

A car plant in Fremont California that might have saved the U.S. car industry. In 1984, General Motors and Toyota opened NUMMI as a joint venture. Toyota showed GM the secrets of its production system: How it made cars of much higher quality and much lower cost than GM achieved. Frank Langfitt explains why GM didn't learn the lessons—until it was too late.

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Matthea Marquart
3 years ago

I'm a big fan of the podcast This American Life - they prioritize thorough research and engaging storytelling.  This case is a fascinating example of trying to create organizational change - the resistance, the successes, the failures.  Students would benefit a great deal from studying this case while learning theories of change.  However, there are a couple drawbacks - the audio recording is an hour, and the transcript version is an unconventional way to format a business case study.  The instructor would need to frame the use of the case in such a way that students take it seriously and understand how to use it.

Time spent reviewing site: 45 min
Susan Luck
Susan Luck (Faculty)
5 years ago

This documentary, teamed with a study of John Kotter's Steps to Effective Change, can be eye-opening to many business students who are used to the idea that change is bad.  In today's economic environment, many working adults have suffered through change initiatives that failed due to poor communication and/or poor initiation of the change.  This video compares two GM plants who were told to change in two different manners and as a result had vastly different results. The differences are clearly delineated and apply themselves well to any discussion of organizational behavior, organizational communication, business strategy, or leadership.

The video is easy to watch; the materials also include a transcript for those who prefer to read or who don't have time to access a video.  It should lend itself well to a discussion of how to communicate change and why.

Time spent reviewing site: 45 minutes