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American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company par [Hoffman, Bryce G.]
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The House That Henry Built

Business men go down with their businesses because they like the old way so well they cannot bring themselves to change. One sees them all about-men who do not know that yesterday is past, and who woke up this morning with their last year's ideas.


While many of Ford Motor Company's problems were shared by the rest of Detroit, the Dearborn automaker also faced some challenges all its own. Ford's woes had not begun with the arrival of the Japanese in the 1960s or the oil crises of the 1970s. The company had been struggling with itself since Henry Ford started it on June 16, 1903. It invested massively in game-changing products, and then did nothing to keep them competitive. It allowed cults of personality to form around large-than-life leaders, but drove away the talent needed to support them. And it allowed a caustic corporate culture to eat away at the company from the inside. These were birth defects that could be traced back to the automaker's earliest days. Henry Ford liked to boast that he had created the modern world. In many ways, he had. But he also created a company that was its own worst enemy.

Henry Ford began that company with a simple vision: "I will build a car for the great multitude. It will be large enough for the family, but small enough for the individual to run and care for. It will be constructed of the best materials, by the best men to be hired, after the simplest designs that modern engineering can devise. But it will be so low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one-and enjoy with his family the blessing of hours of pleasure in God's great open spaces."

Ford made good on that promise with his Model T, a simple, reliable, no-nonsense car that transformed the automobile from a rich man's toy into a means of transportation for the masses. When the Model T went on sale on October 1, 1908, most cars cost a small fortune. It started at $850-less than $20,000 in today's money. "Even You Can Afford a Ford," the company's billboards proclaimed. But Ford did not stop there.

As demand for these Tin Lizzies grew, the pioneering manufacturer began building them on the world's first moving assembly lines. This cut the average time it took to produce a Ford from thirteen hours to just ninety minutes. But workers got bored on Ford's assembly lines, and turnover was high. So, in January 1914, the company stunned the world by announcing that it would pay workers $5 a day. It was America's first minimum wage, and it was more than twice what most other laborers made at the time. As news spread, tens of thousands of men-particularly in the underdeveloped South-threw down their picks and hoes and headed for Detroit. Ford's $5-a-day wage sparked one of the largest economic migrations since the California Gold Rush and created the industrial middle class. As Henry Ford would later boast, it also made his workers as reliable as his machines. Mass production allowed Ford to cut costs and boost efficiency. He passed the savings on to consumers and made his money on the added volume. Henry Ford claimed that every dollar he shaved off the price of his car bought him a thousand new customers. By 1925, the price of a Model T had dropped to $260-just over $3,000 today-and Ford was making more than 1.6 million of them a year.

It was an impressive figure for the time, but it was nearly 200,000 less than the company was making just two years before. Despite the massive price cuts, sales of the Model T were slumping. So was Ford's share of the market, which peaked in 1921 at 61.5 percent. Other automakers, like General Motors, were regularly introducing new models-each one an improvement over its predecessor. The Model T had seen few updates. It was old technology, yet Henry Ford stubbornly refused to begin work on a replacement. He thought it was all the automobile the average person needed. When his engineers began work on a new prototype anyway, Ford destroyed it with a sledgehammer. But Ford's dealers were clamoring for something new. So was his son, Edsel. By the time Ford finally began work on his new Model A in 1927, demand had fallen so dramatically that he was forced to close his factories and lay off 60,000 workers.

As Ford retooled, General Motors passed it to become the largest automaker in the world. Many thought Ford was finished. But on November 28, 1927, people all over America waited in line for hours outside dealerships for a glimpse of the first new Ford in twenty years. It did not seem to matter that the only thing inside most of the stores was a cardboard cutout. By the end of the day, more than 10 million people-10 percent of the U.S. population-had seen the Model A. It combined the Model T's practicality with something entirely new to Ford customers: style. Thousands placed orders on the spot. Ford's factories surged back to life, unable to keep up with the unprecedented demand for its new car.

Within two years, the company had sold more than 2 million Model A's and its share of the domestic market doubled. Yet once again, Henry Ford rested on the laurels of his phenomenal success as his competitors continued to improve their offerings. The next new Ford would not arrive in showrooms until 1932. By then, other manufacturers were introducing new models every year, and Ford was losing money. Fortunately for the Dearborn automaker, its new flathead V-8 motor was another innovative hit. But Ford would not really begin to diversify its product lineup until after World War II, and even then it would continue to make the same mistake with products like the Thunderbird and the Mustang.

By the 1980s, Ford was fighting for its life once again-this time against new competitors from Japan. Ford and the other Detroit automakers had been ceding sales to the import brands for a decade, and many doubted whether the Big Three would be able to mount a counterattack. Then Ford stunned the automotive world with the most radical new design in years. In 1985, it unveiled the Ford Taurus, a streamlined sedan with rounded corners that featured the tighter suspension and precise steering more typical of European automobiles. Critics said it looked like a jellybean, but it was a hit with consumers and pushed Ford's profits past GM's. The Taurus was so successful that General Motors and Chrysler were soon copying Ford's aerodynamic design, as were the Japanese.

For a while, it seemed like Ford might finally have learned its lesson. It introduced an upgraded version of the Taurus in 1992 that was even better than the original. The Taurus became the bestselling car in America, seizing that title from the Honda Accord. But Ford's investment in the popular sedan soon petered out. In 1997, Toyota's Camry claimed its crown, and the Taurus was soon relegated to rental car fleets. When production finally stopped in 2006, few even noticed.

Ford's overreliance on a single product was surpassed only by its overreliance on a single man. In the beginning, that man was Henry Ford. Instead of leading a team of managers, Ford preferred to rule his industrial empire like a potentate. He had a good eye for talent and initially tried to fill his court with able executives, but he often drove them away once they began to exert significant influence over his organization. Ford was even unwilling to share power with his own son. Edsel Ford replaced his father as the company's president after the family bought out the other investors in 1919, and he held that position until his death in 1943. But Henry Ford still made all the decisions, large and small, often countermanding any orders his son tried to give. He even rehired men Edsel had fired.

Though Henry Ford did not create Ford Motor Company by himself, he often acted as though he had. James Couzens, the company's first general manager, played the prudent businessman to his mad inventor-at least until he resigned in 1915.

"Mr. Couzens said that, while he was willing to work with Mr. Ford, he could no longer work for him," wrote another early Ford executive, Charles Sorensen. "The paradox is that but for Couzens and his organization and domination of sales and finance Ford Motor Company would not have lasted long."

William Knudsen, a manufacturing prodigy who helped orchestrate the company's shift to mass production, was also driven away-right into the arms of General Motors. There he became head of Chevrolet, leading it past Ford in factory output by 1931.

"Mr. Knudsen was too strong for me to handle," Henry Ford later conceded. "You see, this is my business. I built it, and as long as I live, I propose to run it the way I want it run."

Instead of capable executives with their own ideas, Ford preferred to surround himself with yes-men and hired guns like Harry Bennett, the éminence grise with reputed underworld connections whom he hired to keep order at the River Rouge factory complex. Bennett was quickly promoted to chief of the Ford Service Department, which under his leadership grew into the largest private police force in the world. Men like Bennett fostered an enduring culture of intrigue and backstabbing among Ford's senior leadership. Employees lived in fear of being fired by capricious managers and thought carefully before answering questions to make sure they gave the expected response, even if it was wrong.

By the 1930s, Ford had become "a dark, almost gothic place, with a shadowy administration, activities shrouded in mystery, and a roster of dubious characters running rampant on the premises," in the words of historian Douglas Brinkley, who also noted the absence of any real corporate structure at the company. "Henry Ford had preferred to receive reports on his company anecdotally, even through espionage, rather than in the numeric rationale of accounting."

The Flivver King, as Ford became known, ran his dominion by instinct and intuition. The only way anyone in Dearborn knew how much cash the company had was by looking at its bank statements. Ford actually figured out how much money to set aside for accounts payable each month by weighing its bills on a scale. That might have worked for an automotive start-up, but it had long since become a liability-one the U.S. government was not willing to tolerate in a company that, in the 1940s, became a vital contributor to its "Arsenal of Democracy."

As Ford's factories retooled to produce the bombers and jeeps that would help win World War II, the War Department worried about leaving these essential industries in the hands of such a mismanaged corporation. Washington seriously considered taking over the company after Edsel, whom most outsiders viewed as the lone voice of reason inside Ford, died in 1943. Instead, the navy ordered Edsel's son, Lieutenant Henry Ford II, to resign his commission and report for duty in Dearborn. The elder Ford initially tried to prevent his grandson from exercising any real authority, just as he had done with Edsel. But in September 1945, the increasingly enfeebled patriarch was finally persuaded to cede control of the company to his namesake.

Though young and inexperienced, Henry Ford II understood that fundamental changes were needed at the automaker-and needed fast. He personally fired Bennett and the rest of his grandfather's henchmen, replacing them with real businessmen like Ernie Breech, whom he lured away from the far more sophisticated General Motors, and a group of management savants from the Army Air Forces, the legendary Whiz Kids. Together they created a modern corporate structure and instituted disciplined business practices that soon became a model for other companies. At the same time, Ford's new boss ordered his managers to begin treating their employees and one another with respect. He promised that the truth would no longer be punished and encouraged a new openness with the outside world as well. But it did not last. As Henry Ford II grew more confident in his own abilities, he also became more jealous of his position as head of the company. Hank the Deuce, as he was soon nicknamed, began to pit one executive against another. Ford's managers began to worry more about their own careers than the success of the company.

"Henry Ford II's imperial style led to impulsive decisions from which there was no appeal and to a continual shuffling of the executive deck chairs," wrote journalist Alex Taylor III, who began covering Ford in the 1970s. "The sharp-elbowed company politics were embedded in Ford culture. Old Henry Ford and his thuggish subordinate Harry Bennett had instilled a rule of fear in the 1920s and 1930s that never entirely vanished. . . . Even into the 1980s, executives worried about wiretaps and electronic listening devices that would allow their conversations to be overheard. Unlike at GM, it was rare for Ford executives to hang on to their jobs until retirement; almost everyone was vulnerable to being toppled. The Dearborn company became known as a place where tough guys win."

No one was tougher than Lee Iacocca, the marketing genius who was promoted to president in 1970 after his Mustang revived America's love affair with Ford. But Iacocca created his own cult of personality that threatened to divide the company into warring camps. Henry Ford II began to see Iacocca as a threat to his own authority and fired him in 1978 after learning that he had contacted board members behind Ford's back in an effort to protect his position. Iacocca went on to save Chrysler-at least for a while.

Just when it seemed like the corporate intrigue at Ford was reaching new heights, Hank the Deuce announced that he was retiring. In 1980, he turned the company over to Philip Caldwell, a far more reserved Ford executive who would become the first non-Ford to serve as the company's chairman and CEO. For a time, it seemed as if Ford might become just another boring bureaucracy, like General Motors. But Caldwell's successor, Donald Petersen, quickly ran afoul of a new generation of Fords. Petersen resented the easy ascension of Edsel Ford II and William Clay Ford Jr. to the company's board of directors in 1988 and refused to appoint either of them to a board committee.

"I'm not a caretaker for anybody," he told Fortune magazine at the time. "I admire the fact that [Edsel and Bill] are trying very hard to go as far as they can. But being a Ford does not give them a leg up. The principle we must operate on is that selection to top management is based solely on merit."

Petersen spent the next two years trying to hold his ground, but it was a battle he could not win as long the Ford family maintained controlling interest in the company. He resigned in 1990, just as the automaker was entering its most profitable decade ever.

I once asked a Toyota executive if there was anything he admired about Ford Motor Company.

"Yes," he said after reflecting for a moment. "Their ability to overcome adversity."

The company may have been unable to learn from its mistakes, but Ford was a survivor. It was the Rocky Balboa of the automobile industry-at its best when it was against the ropes. It could take punches and come back swinging. Every time someone wrote Ford off, there it was back in the center of the ring with its gloved hand thrust into the air. But it could not handle success. Like the fictional fighter, Ford kept falling back into its old habits, growing soft and complacent once the danger had passed.

Revue de presse

“A standout…brimming with smart observations and fresh insights into Ford’s success.” –Alex Taylor, Fortune
“Fly-on-the-wall accounts of Mulally negotiating deals and Ford overcoming challenges from the inside and outside…A paean to the ingenuity, grit and optimism that once defined American industry and to capitalism played with government on the sidelines.” Reuters
“A compelling narrative that reads more like a thriller than a business book.” New York Times
“A must-read.” Huffington Post
“A fascinating read for anyone who follows the car industry.” –Financial Times

“A Detroit News journalist’s in-the-room account of the resurrection of America’s most storied car company…With colorful anecdotes, sharp character sketches, telling details and a firm understanding of the industry, Hoffman fleshes out every aspect of this tale, reminding us of the hard work, tension, and high-stakes drama that preceded the successful result.” —Kirkus

“Bryce Hoffman has done a stellar job of capturing the Ford storyand more to the point showing us how Mulally did it.  American Icon is a story of leadership that offers valuable lessons for organizations of all sizes.” —Lee Iacocca

“Bryce G. Hoffman’s American Icon brilliantly recounts the Lazarus-like resurgence of the Ford Motor Company under the bold and inspiring leadership of CEO Alan Mulally. Hoffman, one of America’s best auto industry reporters, has written a timely book about the relevance of Ford that serves as a larger metaphor for America at large. Highly recommend!” —Douglas Brinkley, professor of history, Rice University, and author of Wheels for the World: Henry Ford, His Company, and a Century of Progress
“Bryce Hoffman has written a riveting tome based on deep insider information about the resurrection of the Ford Motor Company from a near death experience and the establishment of a business model that promises to be a prototype for large organizations of all types. It features the transformation from a top-down style of leadership to that of a coach led by CEO Alan Mulally whose focus is the team, the team, the team.” —David E. Cole, chairman emeritus, Center for Automotive Research
“From the precipitous demise of an American icon through decades of infighting and self-destructive management to a turnaround not only financial but also in terms of forging the foundation of a new, healthy culture, this book reads like an un-put-downable novel. Bryce Hoffman’s amazing inside access tells the story of how Alan Mullally built on Henry Ford’s own management principles—which quickly got lost in the company—and created one company, with one purpose and a passion for product and customers. A great story.” —Jeffrey Liker, professor, University of Michigan, and author of The Toyota Way

Amazing. I would give Alan Mulally twelve D’s for his work at Ford, for Discipline, Data, Daring, Determination, Design, Direction, Decisiveness, Delivery, Doubt-Free, Debt Free, Downsizing, and of course, Dearborn.  I thought I was disciplined until I read how Mulally worked. Bryce is a gifted writer, and American Icon is both educational and entertaining.  Most telling of allI learned from reading this book.” —Lee Cockerell, former Executive Vice President, Walt Disney World Resort, and author of Creating Magic
“After decades of stories about the failure of America’s traditional industries to meet world competition, it is heartening to encounter a signal success. But Bryce Hoffman’s rendering of how Alan Mulally reversed the fortunes of Ford Motor is more than heartening; it is riveting. Almost certainly one of the best business books of the year.” —H. W. Brands, professor of history at the University of Texas at Austin, and author of Traitor to His Class and The First American

“This superbly reported book is not just about cars. It is an authoritative and inspiring account of leadership, management, corporate culture, and the prospects for American manufacturing.”John Taylor, author of Storming the Magic Kingdom

From the Hardcover edition.

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 3928 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 432 pages
  • Editeur : Crown Business (13 mars 2012)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 0307886050
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307886057
  • ASIN: B005723KGW
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 4.8 étoiles sur 5 489 commentaires
66 internautes sur 68 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 If you liked the Walter Isaacson book "Steve Jobs", you are going to love this one on Alan Mulally. Both are of similiar quality 11 février 2012
Par S. Power - Publié sur
Format: Relié Commentaire d‘un membre du Club des Testeurs ( De quoi s'agit-il? )
I highly recommend that you read this book and fully agree with what the other positive reviewers are saying about it. This book itself was not just a good read about a stalwart man, and an incredible company, it is an epic tail of a Great American Manufacturing Dynasty brought back from the brink of extinction. Reading it really inspired me to learn even more about Mulally, The Ford Motor Company, and their products. After reading the book, or while you wait for it to arrive, check out some of the videos and movies about Alan Mulally on the internet. His appearances at local universities, on late night talk shows, and in a documentary done about his work at Boeing all make for really interesting supplements to this book.

This book is different from, but every bit as well done as Walter Isaacson's book on Steve Jobs. Both of the biographies are appealing in many of the same ways. You get a history lesson, a solid business book, a solid overview of the automotive industry, a human interest story, and a biography not just of Mulally but also of other key people in the industry. You also get a really fully developed business case study that demonstrates the lessons of teamwork, core competency, strategic management, benchmarking, business ethics, the importance of liquidity among many other concepts. Although Steve Jobs and Alan Mulally are as different as two men can be, I see similarities in their importance, vision, and impact on the World. Their biographers and their biographies are also very different, but again similar in quality and importance.

The factual accuracy of this book seems to be very good. Bryce Hoffman has a lot of credibility in this part of the country and it doesn't seem that he has any agenda except to tell the story and write a good book. At times, he seems to be exaggerating the dichotomy of how bad Ford was and how great Alan Mulally and Bill Ford were, but a lot of people I know deep inside ford have the same opinions. I don't think that the author has any nefarious agenda in writing this book, and he is so hard on the automotive insiders in this country that I don't think anyone will accuse him of being self-serving. In the last chapter he does a nice job of pointing out how no one man saved Ford and reaffirming the strengths that some of the 'characters' brought to the situation.

The entire book is suspenseful and captivating from start to finish and in the events or perspective of each chapter. There are really funny anecdotes throughout the book and more than enough drama to keep even fiction readers interested. There is also a lot in this book that will make for worthy quoting. The chapter starters are all relevant quotes from Henry Ford himself, but there are also a lot of very useful and powerful quotations from more recent people, events, and situations.

The biography is written in a non-sequential style that can be a little unwieldy because it requires that you really keep on your toes about how the events relate as they are addressed in the various chapters. Despite this small flaw, or choice of style, the book is well organized, and I think the author made the right decision, overall in the presentation of the information. Just be prepared to have to go back sometimes to refresh your memory about where in time the topics that are being discussed occurred.

These two biographies, this one and Isaacson's, are the most thorough and well done books in a very long time. I highly recommend that you read this one and consider tabbing it as you go. I wish I had tabbed mine as I went. There is certainly a lot of information that I'll be referring back to as I try to emulate some of Mulally's successes and avoid the pitfalls that are highlighted.

If there was anything that you wanted me to cover in this review that I failed to, please let me know in the comments and I'll go back and cover them. I want this to be useful for you.
29 internautes sur 31 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Fascinating, page-turning, idea-inspiring! 1 mars 2012
Par James Korsmo - Publié sur
Format: Relié Commentaire d‘un membre du Club des Testeurs ( De quoi s'agit-il? )
Simply put, this book is a page-turner. And that's not what you'd normally expect from a business book. But there's a great story here, well told, that excites the mind.

There hasn't really been a bigger story in the last half-decade than the economy, and along with the banking and housing sectors, America's "big three" automotive manufacturers have been key players in that story. But amid an economy in decline and two cross-town rivals falling toward default, Ford managed to plot a different course. This book is the story of that startling rebirth. It briefly chronicles the history of Ford, appraising its ups and downs and the resulting corporate culture its history had created. And it looks at the trouble it was facing (along with the rest of the auto industry) in the mid 2000s. But things took a decisive change for Ford when Bill Ford Jr. volunteered to step aside as CEO and bring in outside help. And the person he tapped for that responsibility was Alan Mullaly, a top executive who had just led a resurgence at Boeing.

American Icon is really three books in one: It is an interesting piece of modern American history, chronicling the inside workings of a key economic player in the midst of historic economic troubles throughout the country and the world. It is also a business book, with thoughtful and inspiring ideas for rethinking corporate culture, business workflows, and entrenched mindsets with cross-functional teams, openness, responsibility, and a carefully focused but always updating plan. And third, it is an interesting biography of both Bill Ford Jr. and Alan Mullaly, giving insight into their personalities and approaches to business.

Mulally's ideas of emphasizing simplicity, comporting vision with reality, and demanding open collaboration and communication among team members worked wonders at Ford. He paints a compelling picture of how a corporate structure (at whatever level) could work constructively and agilely to effect productive change and breed success. I often had to put the book down so I could jot down ideas for making some of his principles work in my own workplace. This business book almost pulls new ideas out of you by stimulating your thinking; at least, it did for me.

I loved this book, and am happy to enthusiastically recommend it. It's a fascinating case study in successful business coupled with compelling modern history told as a fast-moving story. You will not be bored; in fact, you'll be pulled in to Mulally's vision as you see it unfold before you.
23 internautes sur 26 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Visionary 6 mars 2012
Par sneaky-sneaky - Publié sur
Format: Relié Commentaire d‘un membre du Club des Testeurs ( De quoi s'agit-il? )
Simply put, Ford is now exciting. Bryce Hoffman explains why and how. Alan Mullally was brought in to save a legend from itself, and he did just that. The Mulally model will probably be studied and taught for decades. Ford's culture was poisonous at so many levels. Bad products, bad policies, and a toxic culture of backstabbing and oneupmanship had culminated in what would be an inevitable end. Executives bugged each other's offices, phones were tapped, vehicles were overproduced and later sold at discounts; and that culture was decades old. Henry Ford started it all when a bunch of guys went behind his back, made some improvements to the Model T, and delivered a prototype. Ford destroyed it with a sledgehammer.
Bryce Hoffman was given unprecedented access and provides direct quotes from many of the defining moments and situations that occurred over the last decade, including talks with the Chrysler and GM CEOs, Ben Bernanke, Hank Paulson, candidate Obama, the Ford heirs, and so on. There have been complaints that the book is overly optimistic bordering on worshipful. Well, all you need to do is look at the product. I walked around a dealership. Ford's new vehicles look great, and the company now has the highest quality rating for a non-luxury brand. In the book you read about the current advertising campaign that was conceived several years ago. Ford started off with 'One Ford' or something, and as quality improved, Mulally wanted to move to interviews with customers impressed with the new product; in other words using actual customers to sell great vehicles. And that is exactly what is happening today.
Mr. Hoffman has been an auto industry reporter for a number of years and knows what stories are relevant, where the bodies are buried, and where the shovels are at.
16 internautes sur 19 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Suspenseful and well-written account of Alan Mulally's battle to save Ford 25 janvier 2012
Par Kcorn - Publié sur
Format: Relié Commentaire d‘un membre du Club des Testeurs ( De quoi s'agit-il? )
Books about businesses- and the individuals who head them - can often come across as thinly veiled promos for the companies and CEOs. As a result, they often have me yawning before I've gotten through the first chapter.

But American Icon is a major exception. Yes, the focus is on Alan Mulally (Ford CEO) and how he achieved a stunning turnaround for Ford. But Bryce G. Hoffman also provides plenty of information about Bill Ford Jr. (Executive Chairman at Ford) , other major players, and the dynamics of the Ford family...power struggles, tensions, triumphs, and all..

Relevant quotes from Henry Ford introduce each chapter, a very nice touch, connecting the automobile company's past and present. An example: "We do not make changes for the sake of making them, but we never fail to make a change when once it is demonstrated that the new way is better than the old way." This quote heads the chapter entitled 'The Revolution Begins.'

It is important for potential readers to know that this book isn't a simple puff piece for Mullaly, doing nothing but singing his praises. Instead, it is a hard-hitting and very honest portrayal of some very tough years at Ford, significant enough to potentially bankrupt the company. When Mulally came on the scene, the company - and company executives- didn't work well. Executives fought with each other. Unity was rare. Toyota was leaving Ford in the dust. The economy was hitting one of the worst periods in history.

Its no wonder that Mulally had to be wooed- and heavily - to agree to leave his job at Boeing and come to Ford. While intrigued, he was also reluctant and actually turned down the initial job offer. After all, he'd already fended off major threats to Boeing and gotten due credit for leading the company to record sales, revenue, and earnings. Why would he want to enter the trenches again?

Even after agreeing to work for Ford, Mulally faced what seemed like an insurmountable task. At the end of 2008, Ford Motor Company was about to go bankrupt - and that is no exaggeration. In addition to that bleak reality, Mullaly also had to deal with the UAW, an economy that was tanking and challenges he couldn't even begin to foresee. As tough as he thought the job would be, it became far more difficult than he could envision.

Among other challenges, Mulally quickly discovered that executives often exaggerated their sales estimates or other data, making it hard to figure out the truth behind the numbers given. So Mulally put in place what was to become a bedrock of his corporate meetings: the BPR or business plan review. He went even further by making SENIOR execs (yes, worth stressing) - and not their assistants - do the presentations for their departments. This was akin to a revolutionary move. It met with resistance but credit Bill Ford Jr. with supporting Mulally.

During a particularly harsh period in our economy, one which isn't over yet ( as of today's date), what Mulally accomplished is nothing short of miraculous. And reading about what transpired had my heart racing. Moment to moment suspense and drama fill the pages of this behind the scenes look at the battle to save Ford. In order to create such a compelling work, the author conducted well over a hundred interviews with Ford executives, other business leaders, Ford family members, and of course Alan Mulally. Perhaps that is why I felt like I was sitting in many of the meetings, listening to every discussion, and being privy to the game plan for saving Ford...a game plan that was tweaked, however often, to adapt to critical economic and other factors at Ford as well as the U.S. and world economy.
10 internautes sur 12 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Impossible to 'Oversell' This Book! 13 mars 2012
Par Loyd Eskildson - Publié sur
Format: Relié
It's also impossible to not gain respect and admiration for the principals involved - Bill Ford and Alan Mulally; thank goodness America has people with these qualities able to meet today's challenges.

Scene I in Mr. Hoffman's book takes place at the end of 2008. Congress has offered each of the 'Big Three' a bailout. Ford, unlike G.M. and Chrysler, decided to save itself. (To be fair, the Ford family had no choice and undoubtedly recognized that bankruptcy or federal restructuring would preclude its continued dominance of the firm.) Previously it had gone outside the auto industry and recruited Alan Mulally from Boeing after he had pulled Boeing from the economic ashes of 9/11. Until Bill Ford's taking the reins in 2001 Ford, like G.M. and Chrysler, had remained fat and complacent, despite losing market share to new competitors in the U.S. and Asia. All three had too many factories, dealers, models, and workers, enormous legacy costs, and overly generous union contracts. Most of the smart money was on Ford being the first of the Big Three to fail.

Bill Ford led a 2001 boardroom coup that replaced then CEO Jacques Nasser out of concern over his diversification away from automobiles, anti-environmentalism stance, spinning off its Visteon parts network, alienating dealers, implementing separate supplier negotiations for each major Ford component, and the Firestone-Ford quality/safety debacle. Bill Ford led improvement efforts in every front - closing five factories (21,000 jobs), ending conspicuous consumption, and reducing dividends to lower costs, improving quality, placating dealers, and improving mileage. However, rising gas prices, its over-reliance on SUVs and large pickups, blatant top-level infighting, and union contracts led to a $6 billion loss in the third-quarter of 2006 instead of the $7 billion in profits that he had promised for the year when he first took over.

Bill Ford then recognized he needed help, and after several searches, selected Alan Mulally at Boeing.

Hoffman then provides readers with an interesting side-trip illustrating that Ford had had a long history of management problems. For example, Henry Ford had figured out how much money to set aside for accounts-payable each month by weighing its bills, preferred anecdotal reports on his company (sometimes via espionage) over more rational accounting, and had driven some of his most talented associates into the arms of competitors - eg. William Knudson, James Couzons). Henry Ford II later helped install good accounting during WWII, but went on to foment factional infighting to ensure his own dominance, aided by wiretaps and continual executive shuffling. Lee Iacocca, as a result, left Ford after his stunning Mustang success and moved to save Chrysler.

Other early Ford near-disasters included its nearly being bankrupted in 1920 (Henry Ford had borrowed heavily to buy out his early investors and to construct the mammoth River Rouge plant - he 'saved' the company by then forcing dealers to take delivery and pay for its 125,000 Detroit factory inventory), the 1970s fiery Pinto crashes, and Henry Ford II's successors miring the firm in internal combat vs. the Ford family (still owns controlling interest thanks to its supervoting Class B shares) which wanted Bill Ford on the board.

Mulally's rise to the top job at Boeing had been blocked by previous CEO scandals there, followed by the DOD demanding it bring someone in from the outside. Hence, Jim McNerney, former head of G.E. aircraft engine division and then CEO of 3M took the position. Mulally's first action was to reduce the number of top-level meetings, require they focus on data, mandate no side discussions or Blackberries, demand that the executives speak for themselves and not have staffers do it for them, and require its top leaders drive competitors' cars as well as Fords.

Mulally's other early actions included reading prior studies of Ford's problems, commissioning new ones, talking to industry experts, visiting the Consumer Reports test center for direct feedback, and visiting its own Mazda division (found Ford had 'silo-ed' design from engineering). Decided to consolidate Ford North America, South America, Europe (3), Australia, China, and India - using a matrix approach to still capture local expertise while building on common platforms. Also found Ford had 8 brands - Mazda, Vovo, Jaguar, Ashton-Martin, Land Rover, Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury, along with 27 platforms in 2007 (8 global platforms became the target, much more focused).

There is no credibility in trying to convince employees, customers, bankers etc. that somehow 'things are going to get better' without a viable turnaround plan in place.' Completely open, honest, and straightforward communication, starting with why the organization became broken and how it is going to turn around is required. Mulally and his top leaders created the 'One Ford' plan, which charted a course for Ford's product development, manufacturing strategy and financial rehabilitation. No more silos and turf battles. This was used to raise $23.6 billion to increase the pace and scope of its innovation - when Mulally had been CEO for only three months, and the One Ford plan completed in less than two months after he became CEO.

Mulally's initial assessment of Ford's then failing management was that it was the system, not the people, that was the problem. His solution was to use the peer accountability system that he'd used at Boeing. At the heart of this system was a weekly leadership meeting he called the 'business plan review' (BPR). It became more than asking, 'How are we doing?' - 'How are we doing against the plan?' 'What are the areas that need special attention.' Leadership became having a compelling vision, a comprehensive plan, relentless implementation, and talented people working together.

In these sessions, each member of the leadership team was expected to present a concise color-coded update of his/her progress toward meeting key company goals. Projects on track or ahead of schedule were colored green, yellow indicated the initiative had potential issues/concerns, and red denoted those programs behind schedule or off plan. In the old system they kept to themselves and stayed out of each other's way. Mulally saw the primary purpose of peer accountability not as creating more pressure for individual performance, but identifying opportunities for the team to leverage its collective strength. Mark Fields, seen as the #1 contender for Mulally's position originally objected - complaining this was a waste of time. Mulally asked him to 'trust the system,' he did, and became CEO after Mulally left. , Mulally became the auto industry's Lee Iacocca of the 2000s.

Color-coded status reports provided a level of transparency sometimes absent from the usual numerical reports, and processing those visual updates as a team instilled a discipline of peer accountability often lacking in leadership teams. In his conference, the walls displayed 320 or so color-coded charts laying out goals and progress towards those milestones for each profit center and function. Above each set of charts was a phot of the leadership team member responsible for the results.

Mulally slowly changed the culture as well. Managers were reassured with "You 'have' a problem, 'you' are not the problem.' Honest admitting of problems was stressed and applauded. Those at the root of the infighting were moved out. And Bill Ford refused to allow managers to go around Mulally through him. Recognizing the need for major change, Ford borrowed $23.6 billion, pledging as security even the Ford oval nameplate.

The UAW agreed to make certain changes to help Ford's profitability in return for the company's guarantee to bring production jobs back to the U.S. Mulally also consolidated Ford's purchases among suppliers willing to partner and drive down costs in return for a greater share of the business.

Too many options was another problem - eg. the 2007 Ford Mustang V-6 deluxe offered 16,000 options, including colors. UAW support was slowly won, starting with opening the books to their experts. G.M. and Chrysler's similar problems and negotiations also helped. Mulally supported the bailout for G.M. and Chrysler out of fear that if they went down, major Ford suppliers would go down with them.
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