A trifecta of useful suggestions for the embattled auto industry from the ever-perspicacious Sean Safford:
Push more capabilities into the value chain. For years, the auto industry has been restructuring its relationships with suppliers. But it still retains ultimate power within the value chain. This is partly due to how complicated a car is. Someone needs to take ultimate responsibility to ensure all those thousands of pieces fit together seamlessly. But the current balance of power within the value chain has strategic drawbacks. The collapse of one car company would bring down the vast supplier network. Giving suppliers greater autonomy and design responsibility increases the possibility down the line that a new, viable car company could emerge from the morass that is our current auto industry should any of the current giants go down. Specifically, it would by lower barriers to entry so new entrants (or a supplier itself) could forge relationships with suppliers to produce a new kind of car. It would also free them up to produce parts for non-American auto manufacturers preserving some part of the value chain in the U.S.
The garden metaphors are a thoughtful and presumably intentional departure from the mechanistic metaphors usually employed in discussions of industry. Incidentally, Safford has turned his guest stint at orgtheory.net into a permanent arrangement, proving that some enterprises continue to evolve and thrive.