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James Holden's (Annotated) Letter to the Staff

We have heard that this letter went out to all Chrysler employees, but not having any on our staff, cannot verify the truth. It could simply be another hoax, in which case we'd be really embarassed. Annotations are in italics.

The letter (annotated by Gary)

James P. Holden5/15/00 To: DaimlerChrysler Employees

Subject: A Message From Jim Holden

I'd like to take a few minutes to update you on how (and perhaps what) we're doing these days. (We are in a world of hurt, and it's time to pass the buck) Between stock market jitters, interest rate hikes and budget pressures, I know there is a lot of concern inside our company -- and to some degree there should be. (Critical people are leaving like rats, and morale sucks!)

Let me begin by addressing last week's Senior Management Meeting in Malta. This was NOT a boondoggle to some exotic destination. (Greasy Middle-eastern food tastes terrible, and the toilet paper was rough)

It was a serious effort to get the Senior Management across the whole company familiar with regional and business unit strategies and with each other. (Jurgen said it's his way or the highway)

Chrysler proved long ago the power of informality. Knowing each other leads to straight talk, which leads to good decisions. Enough said -- it was a great meeting. (We argued our case for awhile, but in the end we all said "yes boss!" )

Jurgen Schrempp talked about six strategic topics: stock price, productivity, maximizing human resources, e-business, the Mitsubishi alliance and value chain management -- all critical elements to our future success. (We couldn't make any sense of his plan, but it contained all the latest buzz words, so I'm passing it on without comment)

For the Chrysler group, we got to show successful we've become, and we showed that we contributed the majority of unit sales, revenues and profits within DaimlerChrysler AG last year. (We had 5 minutes to show our charts.)

But we also talked about how volatile that performance can be. (We're not sure we can keep juggling the numbers next quarter!)

Right now, the U.S. industry is kind of a paradox. It's running at close to 18 million units -- the highest rate in history. In that environment, you'd think performance would be a snap! But it's not. (Someone made a lot of dumb decisions, and now it's too late to take advantage of the economic boom)

Let me count the reasons: All the competition elbowing their way into our segments, Alan Greenspan jacking up interest rates, costs going through the ceiling and more regulations to meet. Meanwhile, our customers will take a walk if we seriously raise prices to keep up.(It wasn't my fault!)

So what do we do? We basically have two alternatives. One is to pretend that it's all beyond our control, and take whatever beating will come or way - not a brilliant strategy for shareholders or for profit sharing. (Jurgen asked what in hell we were going to do to regain market share.)

The second alternative is to do things the good-old-fashioned Chrysler way. When things don't look too great, we find ways to turn them around. We work smarter than the other guys. We do things faster, better and cheaper. In short, we take control of our own destiny. (Smaller bonuses this year, turn down the thermostat, and hourly workers can't get pencils from the office!)

The choice is obvious, and that's what your Senior Management team is committed to. (If we don't turn things around, you'll be seeing more German managers in Auburn Hills)

So, I'm asking for your commitment to make sure we tackle each issue and challenge with kind of effectiveness an efficiency we're known for. To get the job done, you will have to make all YOUR decisions as if this was 1990, not 2000. You'll need to postpone the necessary, drop the discretionary, and challenge the rest. (Forget all previous plans)

As we do that, we'll protect and improve our product plan, which, as always, is the biggest long-term performance driver in the place. (Put opera windows and vinyl roofs on the Intrepid, and make a Neon Duster)

But between here and there is a lot of treacherous territory. The sooner we take action, the better the result. NOW'S the time. (Jurgen gave us 6 months to shape up or we all go the way of Plymouth)



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