“THE GM NOD”

 

Neal Pollard

The Wall Street Journal says General Motors made a “deadly defect in ignition switches used on as many as 2.6 million cars” (blogs.wsj.com, Spector, White, et al). The switches could suddenly slip from the on position, “stalling the vehicles and disabling airbags” (ibid.).  But, it didn’t get fixed and, according to WSJ’s Mike Ramsey and Jeff Bennett, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is certain that there were more than the 13 deaths as GM has been maintaining.  Some safety experts speculate that the number could be as high as 100 (blogs.wsj.com).  A 315 page report on the GM corporate culture reveals that solutions were proposed but died in committees. “But determining the identity of an actual decision maker was impenetrable. No single person owned any decision” (ibid.). The phenomenon was dubbed “the GM nod” or “the GM salute,” where everyone agreed that something should be done but nobody did anything.

A proposal is made, everyone agrees it should be enacted, and then everyone thinks someone else will do it and not them. There is no taking of ownership or accepting of responsibility.  “Someone” will handle it.  But, nobody did!

It is easy to fall into this way of thinking.  When sermons are preached on evangelism or encouraging wayward members, we nod at its importance.  When announcements are made of those facing surgery or being hospitalized and visits are encouraged, we nod that it should happen.  We’re asked to pray for someone and we sympathetically nod. Appeals to attend worship services and Bible classes may be met with a nod.  Calls for duty, involvement, and commitment might get a dutiful nod.

Sometimes, though, the nod is the last action we take.  We’re busy.  It’s not our job.  Someone will do it, but not me.

Let’s be challenged to be moved by right, scriptural calls to action.  Let’s not assume someone else will do it.  Let’s take these appeals personally and act accordingly.

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