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Chrysler Group President Challenges Creative People to 'Step to the Edge'

May 14, 2002

Chrysler Group President and Chief Executive Officer Dieter Zetsche, in a speech to the Adcraft Club of Detroit on May 10, 2002 told industry executives that companies willing to take risks "are often those whose messages are heard." Addressing an audience of some 400 at the marketing organization's monthly meeting, Zetsche said that there are many obstacles to creativity "that can test the mettle of even the most forward-thinking businessman or woman." Some of the greatest constraints to creativity in business today are found in a court of law and in the court of public opinion. "The costs associated with the American civil justice system are two-and-a-half times what the nation spends for police and fire protection each year." Zetsche added that throughout the auto industry, engineers spend thousands of hours giving depositions in legal cases, taking valuable time away from the duties they were hired to perform. "As we work to create even safer cars and trucks, we find ourselves being sued if we do - and sued if we don't." Beyond the constraints of the civil justice system on creativity, Zetsche said that "advocacy groups" which use modern-day tools like the Internet, can "humble - if not hobble" corporations. "Activism is not new, nor is it necessarily bad," he said. "Today, however, activism in our society is creating a new set of challenges for the business community . . . by putting pressure on any corporation whose products or policies may run contrary to their views."
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