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My Years with General Motors

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  803 ratings  ·  51 reviews
My Years with General Motors became an instant bestseller when it was first published in 1963. It has since been used as a manual for managers, offering personal glimpses into the practice of the discipline of management by the man who perfected it. This is the story no other businessman could tell--a distillation of half a century of intimate leadership experience with a ...more
Paperback, 496 pages
Published October 1st 1990 by Crown Business (first published 1964)
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Average rating 3.91  · 
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Sep 23, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lobstergirl by: Alfred D. Chandler Jr.
It's not really accurate to call this a memoir. It's more a business history of the early years of General Motors, from the viewpoint of its most famous executive Alfred P. Sloan. Sloan today is revered as a pioneer of business management; his name graces the Sloan School of Management at MIT, as well as his charitable causes, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (Charles Kettering was a pioneering GM engineer).

Sloan instituted and oversaw many of GM's t
Mar 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Over 50 years since its initial publication, this books still stands as one of the greatest business management classics. Written in a practical, matter-of-fact way, Sloan does not deliver a business how-to or a doctrine to follow, he simply explains the how and the why of various business decisions he was faced with during the take-off of the automobile industry in the early 20s. Sloan demonstrates how careful planning and market analysis allowed GM to topple Ford's Model T. An interesting disc ...more
Omar Halabieh
Jul 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is a true business classic. In this book Alfred Sloan shares his years of wisdom - while heading General Motors - in a variety of areas including planning, strategy, finance, leadership, innovation and management. Alfred was a true pioneer of his time in building the discipline of management and his approach is just as applicable now as it was in the early 1900s.

Below are key lessons in the form of excerpts that I found particularly insightful from this must read classic.

1- "I feel that a p
Mar 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business, favorites
I read “My Years at General Motors” when I was in college, roughly 32 years ago. My interest at the time was in reading a piece of business history, and I find I still recall a number of topics covered in the book. I can’t say that for many books I read so many decades back. I think that what struck me was that Sloan and his managers really changed how things worked, and organized the automotive industry in a way I see many companies trying to organize their industries today. As I think about it ...more
David McClendon, Sr
Jun 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Book Review
My Years With General Motors
Alfred P. Sloan Jr.

David E. McClendon Sr.
The book My Years with General Motors by Alfred P. Sloan Jr. is highly recommended as the one business book every aspiring business student should read. Management guru Peter Drucker speaks of it several times throughout his writings. Bill Gates told Fortune, “My Years with General Motors is probably the best book to read if you want to read only one book about business.”
This book really is not a “how to book”. It i
Dec 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a hard book to classify. The title suggests it will be a memoir, but it's much more nearly a corporate history or business case study, told in the first-person. Sloan says almost nothing personal. He freely alternates between the singular and the plural -- it's never quite clear which decisions were his and which were collective. The preface suggests that this is deliberate; the book was written several decades after much of the history and it might not have been clear to the writers who ...more
Max Lapin
Aug 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Certainly a must read business encyclopedia for corporate management and governance
TEELOCK Mithilesh
Sep 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: management
My Years with General Motors is a must-read. Sloan explains the policies and processes he used to make his company the best-selling motor company. When studying his proven strategies, you can take and implement them in your own business, and this will take your company to greater heights.
Frank Stein
Feb 03, 2016 rated it liked it
It's odd that this book is celebrated by many of today's corporate luminaries, including Bill Gates, as the best business book of all time. In fact, it's hard to imagine something more anathema to today's open offices and leaderless companies than this book, which often reads like a paean to the "org chart." The appendix contains seven such charts, which supplement another half-dozen sprinkled throughout the text, along with endless discussions of their benefits and problems.

Admittedly, Alfred P
May 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is so highly rated because Sloan conveys through simple, concise language the solutions to the same problems we have made so complex (not that I know how to simplify them again). He writes it as a story. Credits include Bill Gate's acclaim and my original prompt to read it based on it's inclusion in a list of the top ten business books of all time. Sloan began with an engineering background, some business experience and a successful bearings business. It was bought by GM when the firm was c ...more
May 20, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I suspect one would learn considerably more valuable lessons from a history of GM after Sloan departed the company. Like many books of its ilk, this amounts to a victory lap. I struggle to learn much from my own victories, let alone anyone else's, particularly one who rode one of the 20th century's structural growth engines. I found large chunks of this book irrelevant, at least to this reader.
I further give myself 2 stars for not adequately analyzing what this was likely to be like prior to re
Aug 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This management book was published in 1964 - 55 years ago. That in itself would not recommend it - so (so so) much has changed since then, one may think. But it is entirely mind-blowing that so so much remained the same! Mr. Sloan's interest in building the complex delicate intricacies of a large organisation (General Motors had 600,000 employees at the time of publishing) are endearing, and deeply interesting. Mind that I myself am a manager, and have studied the subject, so my intense interest ...more
Dan Albert
Mar 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is one of the few sources we have on how Alfred P. Sloan saw the world and organized General Motors into the largest and most profitable company of its day. Although Sloan rightfully deserves his place as a giant in the world of business -- and a philanthropist -- one does have to wonder how much he should be held accountable for GM's long slide from the top of the mountain from 1960 to its bankruptcy.

There are critical business lessons in here about how to develop consensus and think about
Jeff Keehr
Mar 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
I know that Sloan left a lot out of this memoir, such as his attempts to destroy the union and other greedy plots, but the story of cars is immensely interesting. There were lots of small car companies in the beginning and until they were combined into the rather unimaginative name of General Motors they were not that interesting. Once the company became large and was able to pour money into research and engineering, the story becomes fascinating. Of course, Sloan ended up creating a foundation ...more
Jun 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Understandably an authoritative classic for both management & automotive enthusiasts.
A firsthand account of corporation, from the most influential figure of the largest production industry of the 1900's.
This book offers invaluable insight for those whom possess interest in; corporation, management or the automotive industry & its product.
I view it best to leverage the text as a reference as to how things have being done, to explore how things could be done, sadly it appears more often than not t
Tin Wee
Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was ok
A very difficult read because of the impersonal, stiff and dry prose. The book outlines the early history of General Motors, and Sloan's considerations as he restructures the company in the wake of technology and changing consumer needs, and seeks to find the balance between centralisation and decentralisation in a massive company consisting different product lines. Sloan was a visionary who recognised the value of data, and I wonder what he could have achieved with the data available today. ...more
Ben Haley
Jan 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating. Like the conquest of Gaul of corporate America. One logical decision after another and Sloan builds the biggest of companies. Rare for someone with so much insight to share it so forthrightly. Not that Sloan needs to be a role model. More like a force to study.
Feb 17, 2019 rated it liked it
This is for pretty hardcore fans of GM. This is a thorough but very dry look at the behind-the-scenes management of GM up through the early 1960s. It is somewhat self-serving.
Diego Leal
Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was ok
Some good stories but very dull if you are not into cars.
Marcos Moret
Mar 06, 2020 rated it did not like it
Sadly this is possibly the most boring book I have ever tried to read - gave up after 100 pages.
Aug 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
By far the best business book I have ever read. No book provides as much insight on topics such as growth, innovation, and policy as Alfred Sloan’s, My Years With General Motors.
Lê Quân
Sep 28, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: business
A rather dry book about a different time, different situation, different way of thinking.
Danny Milligan
Aug 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Not an easy read and a bit of a slog at times, but a very good book on the disciple of management. So many first that were developed at GM.
Jul 21, 2019 rated it it was ok
A quick, good read for all writers. You will feel buoyed and validated in Goldberg’s hands.
Jan 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
Basically this is not only a book, it is a journey or journey. Alfred Sloan elaborates GM’s managerial experience which was emerging and developing at times that there was not yet the known established management practices that we learn about today - even though I critique come of them. He also narrates the story of the automobile industry evolution in the early twentieth century, its ups and downs, how it became better and how. How did people’s taste affected the industry. He also goes through ...more
Timothy Chklovski
Mar 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
A fascinating, in-depth view at a large corporation. Short of being the CEO of a giant corporation, it is hard to get an appreciation of what's involved in running a business of this magnitude. This book provides many insights into what makes a large corporation tick -- for example, establishing a system for tracking sales by dealers with a short delay (data submitted every 10 days in the 1920s) allowed GM to go through the depression with truly impressive profitability (by timely curtailing of ...more
Harsh Khoont
Feb 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is true business management classic.It can be regraded as the handbook for present day manufacturing companies.

Bill Gates told Fortune, “My Years with General Motors is probably the best book to read if you want to read only one book about business.”
Oct 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
If Peter Drucker is considered the father of modern administration, Alfred P. Sloan Jr. can be considered the man who implemented it. Drucker made a study of General Motors, specifically about its management. From this study came the best-seller "Concept of the Corporation". I think this book, altogether with "Adventures of a Bystander", both from Drucker, are a must read for people who want to completely understand the concepts of modern administration and the people involved in creating it, si ...more
Rob Lanphier
Jan 17, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: business
Too many words ;-) It's not conversational easy reading like contemporary business books. It's a pain to read it. However, it's a really good lesson in leadership. Sloan clearly didn't believe in pulling rank or letting himself get lobbied to make stupid business decisions by division leaders within GM. One of the central conflicts described in the book is the conflict over whether GM should bet big on copper-cooled engines (e.g. Chevrolet_Series_M_Copper-Cooled), which was (pardon the pun) the ...more
Aug 11, 2008 rated it liked it
"read it" is a bit of an exaggeration - i maybe finished 1/4 of this book. pretty thick, knew i wouldn't get all the way through, but figured since the guy endowed the bschool at mit, least i could was attempt the book. famous rec from bill gates, something to the effect of 'if you read one business book, read this' also helped.

prose is really not user friendly, if evaluating on this metric score would be lower.

however, tells some interesting stories about the early days of gm. this guy had a pl
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