Ford CEO Mullaly’s First Impressions

In the December 22, 2006 Wall Street Journal article titled Mulally’s ‘First Impressions’ published the letter from the former Lean leader of Boeing and now CEO of the Ford Motor to the employees of the company.
He starts out by acknowledging that there will be tough decisions ahead, and that Ford will continue to lose talent in the short term. He emphasizes the latent “greatness” of Ford the company, the dealer network, product development and that “Ford people are winners by nature”.
Mulally’s job is to motivate and focus these great resources, and to bring together the “pockets of success” into an integrated whole. The following openness and humility in when talking about his weekly Business Plan Review is encouraging:
We talk to each other with candor and respect. We are all determined to get to one plan for our company. We will all participate, and we will all support each other’s efforts to succeed. I don’t yet know everything I need to know about Ford, but I do know that this is the only way I can work.
This plan, Mulally says, will be built around three priorities:
• PEOPLE: A skilled and motivated work force.
• PRODUCTS: Detailed customer knowledge and focus.
• PRODUCTIVITY: A lean global enterprise.
Boeing’s Lean effort is far from perfect. But of any American CEO today, Mulally has the track record and credibility when speaking about “a lean global enterprise” to actually deliver on this.
In plain language he explains what fundamental questions the people at Ford need to answer together:
What are the critical elements needed for a compelling business plan? How accurate are our assumptions? How do we get losses behind us and once again create profitable growth for all?
If Mulally and the Ford team do nothing more than what is outlined in his letter, they will have a terrific chance at success. He closes the article by acknowledging that people of Ford have been through tough times and by offering hope:
Everyone loves a comeback story. Let’s work together to write the best one ever.
I’m looking forward to reading that comeback story in a few years.