General Motors (GM) Chief Executive Mary Barra says the company will change. It took too long to tell owners to bring the cars in for repairs. The company learned about the ignition switch problems over 10 years ago, but failed to recall the cars. Ms. Barra did not know the details of defective cars until December or January, as she became CEO on January 15. Her first change was to appoint Jeff Boyer as the new global safety chief in charge of recalls and other safety issues. He will meet with her once a month to discuss issues. In addition, she discussed the issue in a news conference, as seen in the video below, and started an internal probe of the problem. Ben W. Heineman, Jr. in a post on HBR blog network questioned why these delays occurred in the first place and recommended that business leaders have "robust systematic processes in place for personally leading or overseeing these threats to people and to the company." He gives the following as an approach to managing this type of health and safety crisis. Preventive systems and testing should be in place to reduce the issues to an absolute minimum. As GM has belatedly done, the CEO should appoint a head of safety and rapid response teams to receive reports of serious harms to persons or property that may be linked to product issues. Just as the general company ombuds system reports concerns to the top of the company about serious commercial, legal or ethical issues, the rapid response team should take any issue of potential consequence to the CEO or other high business leaders. Most importantly, the CEO or top business leaders should then form appropriate multi-functional teams relating to: design problems and solutions; internal personnel and processes; duties to regulators; management of litigation; a communications strategy with various constituencies; and any other relevant functions. The CEO or top business leaders must have prompt, periodic, direct reports until there is a good understanding of the interrelated issues. Then they must make decisions on an appropriate response. On these important safety issues, the CEO should also keep the board informed. Both during formulation of the strategy and after, the CEO or top business leadership must ensure that all communications to all constituencies must be strictly accurate. It is better to say nothing—and develop accurate facts—than to issue deceptive or incomplete statements. Once decisions are made about strategy, the CEO must oversee implementation to make sure, as appropriate, that it is meticulously carried out, changing systems both with respect to specific issues and more broadly as necessary, dealing humanely with people injured, and communicating fully and transparently with regulators, media, and other constituents. Questions: What do you think about the CEO's attempts to become the voice to reassure customers that the crisis will be resolved? Are there ethical issues associated with the company's failure to deal with the ignition problem when it was first discovered? The past GM bankruptcy limits its financial responsibility to compensate victims. Should victims be compensated? How might the CEO make this decision?