This blog is about Second Shift: The Inside Story of the Keep GM Movement, a business trade book coauthored by Tomas Hult, Director of Michigan State University’s International Business Center, which is the developer of globalEDGE. The book was coauthored with David Hollister, Ray Tadgerson, and David Closs, and published by McGraw Hill Professional in 2016.

The Second Shift Model discussed in the book was “the dynamic, collaborative management model that saved a U.S. manufacturing city." When car-making giant General Motors decided to close its plant in Lansing, Michigan, in 1996, one person—the city’s newly elected mayor—stood up and said “no.” Initially, it was the cry of a man in the wilderness. Not once in its century-long history had GM reversed a decision to close a plant. But Mayor David Hollister quietly went to work building the ”Lansing Works! Keep GM!” movement and succeeded in defying all the odds.

Hollister’s collaborative problem-solving approach—the Second Shift Model—succeeded in bringing together state and regional politicians, economic developers, private sector firms, labor unions, educators, and residents of the region. Powerful, persuasive, and well organized, this coalition implemented a strategic, six-dimensional framework to achieve the seemingly impossible:

  • Identifying: Name the challenge and its impact
  • Partnering: Develop meaningful relationships
  • Building: Construct the strategy as you go
  • Solving: Engage in constant problem solving
  • Celebrating: Mark successful milestones
  • Persevering: Adapt and endure

The “Lansing Works! Keep GM!“ movement was a victory of people over bureaucracy, of a can-do attitude over cynicism—a story rarely told in today’s complex, technological, and often dehumanizing world of large business and out-of-control government. And the best part was that, in the end, both sides came away winners. It’s proof positive that when the public and private sectors work together as equal partners, amazing things can happen.

One of the great business sagas of modern times, Second Shift provides a proven, practical design for problem solving that anyone can apply in any business or community, large or small. The Second Shift Model is focused on driving win-win solutions with the problem-solving framework that kept GM in Lansing, Michigan. The story has been made into both a 256-page business trade book and a 54-minute documentary film.

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