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Steering back on track: A "What If" Turnaround Case Study...


While the historical challenges faced by this company are based on actual events, the proposed solutions and results are hypothetical and intended for illustrative purposes only. The success of any operational turnaround depends on various factors, and actual results may differ. Readers are advised to consult professionals before making business decisions.



Saab Automobile, a Swedish car manufacturer, was founded in 1945 as a division of Saab AB, an aerospace and defence company. Known for its innovative designs and focus on safety, Saab was a respected name in the automotive industry. However, by 2011, the company was facing bankruptcy.

Saab's downfall can be traced back to a series of ownership changes and financial difficulties. After being acquired by General Motors in 2000, Saab struggled to maintain its unique brand identity while integrating into GM's global platform. The 2008 financial crisis further exacerbated Saab's problems, leading to its sale to Spyker Cars in 2010. Despite efforts to revive the brand, Saab filed for bankruptcy in 2011.



Our hypothetical diagnosis identified several key challenges that contributed to Saab's demise:

  • Brand Dilution: Under GM's ownership, Saab's unique brand identity was diluted, leading to a loss of customer loyalty.
  • Financial Difficulties: Saab was burdened with high levels of debt, which limited its ability to invest in new product development.
  • Market Competition: Saab struggled to compete in a highly competitive global automotive market, particularly against luxury car manufacturers.



Our hypothetical operational turnaround solution for Saab Automobile was a comprehensive and meticulously planned approach that addressed the company's challenges and set the stage for sustainable success. Here are the detailed steps we took:

Brand Revitalisation:

  • Conducted market research and customer surveys to understand the perception of the Saab brand and identify key areas for improvement.
  • Developed a brand strategy that emphasised Saab's unique heritage of innovation, Scandinavian design, and commitment to safety.
  • Launched a comprehensive marketing campaign to reposition Saab as a premium and distinctive brand, targeting key customer segments.
  • Collaborated with renowned designers to create visually striking and technologically advanced vehicle models that captured the essence of Saab's brand identity.

Financial Restructuring:

  • Conducted a thorough financial analysis to understand Saab's debt structure, cash flow situation, and financial obligations.
  • Engaged in negotiations with creditors to restructure debt, including extending payment terms, reducing interest rates, and securing additional funding.
  • Implemented cost-cutting measures to improve cash flow, including streamlining operations, renegotiating supplier contracts, and reducing non-essential expenses.
  • Secured strategic partnerships and investment opportunities to inject capital into the company and strengthen its financial position.

Operational Efficiency Enhancement:

  • Introduced lean manufacturing principles and process improvements across Saab's production facilities, focusing on reducing waste, enhancing quality, and increasing productivity.
  • Conducted a comprehensive review of the supply chain to identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies, implementing measures to streamline logistics and reduce costs.
  • Prioritised workforce training and development programs to enhance skills, foster a culture of continuous improvement, and empower employees to contribute to operational excellence.
  • Implemented advanced production technologies and automation where appropriate to improve efficiency and ensure consistent quality standards.

Product Portfolio Development:

  • Aligned Saab's product portfolio with customer preferences and market demand, identifying gaps and opportunities for new vehicle models.
  • Invested in research and development to enhance vehicle performance, safety features, and fuel efficiency, while maintaining Saab's distinctive design language.
  • Engaged in customer feedback and market testing to refine product offerings and ensure they met the expectations of target customers.
  • Established strategic partnerships with suppliers and technology providers to leverage their expertise and incorporate cutting-edge innovations into Saab's vehicles.



The hypothetical operational turnaround solution yielded tangible results for Saab Automobile, both in the short term and long term:

  • Immediate Financial Stability: The financial restructuring plan we implemented resulted in a significant reduction of Saab's debt burden. By renegotiating debt terms with creditors, we were able to free up capital and provide immediate financial relief. This stability prevented insolvency and restored investor confidence, paving the way for future growth.
  • Revitalised Brand Image: Through our brand revitalisation efforts, Saab regained its unique identity and strengthened its brand image. A comprehensive marketing campaign highlighted Saab's heritage of innovation and Swedish craftsmanship. This resulted in a 30% increase in brand perception among target customers and a 20% rise in customer loyalty.
  • Product Portfolio Enhancement: We worked closely with Saab's product development team to introduce new models that embodied Saab's core values of safety, performance, and Scandinavian design. These new models received positive feedback from customers and critics alike, resulting in a 25% increase in sales within the first year of their launch.
  • Operational Efficiency Improvements: The implementation of lean manufacturing principles across Saab's operations led to significant improvements in efficiency. We witnessed a 35% reduction in production cycle times, a 40% decrease in operational waste, and a 15% increase in overall productivity. These improvements not only reduced costs but also enhanced the quality and reliability of Saab vehicles.
  • Market Expansion and Increased Market Share: By refocusing on Saab's core strengths and leveraging its unique brand identity, we successfully expanded into new markets. Saab experienced a 40% increase in market share in targeted regions and a 25% growth in sales volume internationally. This expansion helped Saab regain its position as a respected player in the automotive industry.


The Saab Automobile turnaround story is a testament to the power of effective operational management. It shows that even in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges, a company can not only survive but thrive.

We invite readers to ask questions in the comment section or message us directly if they would like to have a deeper discussion about this topic, or suggest a topic they would like to see featured in future articles.


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