!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Streamline Training & Documentation: Ford – A Developing Study in Leadership

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Ford – A Developing Study in Leadership

After several posts looking at Toyota, how about shifting focus to Toyota's competition? Both GM and Ford, long-time leaders in world auto sales, have been in the news as they struggle with the challenge that Toyota and other non-US automakers present in today's market.

I'll say a bit about Ford today because the company's Chairman, Bill Ford Jr., has sent a direction-setting memo to company employees that fell into the hands of the Detroit News. In an article today, reporter Bryce G. Hoffman explains that the core of the memo is the three-point strategy for securing the company's future that Mr. Ford lays out:
  • restoring profitability in North America through a combination of new product introductions and substantial costs cuts

  • tighter integration of worldwide operations, especially in the area of product development

  • development of internal leaders and recruitment of leadership talent from outside the company
The bottom line for Bill Ford is just that — the bottom line. His new business model for the company focuses sharply on achieving sustainable profitability. All three elements of what he calls his new business model are essential to success.

I myself am particularly interested in watching Ford's effort to strengthen company leadership. As Hoffman explains,
Ford has been plagued by high turnover and instabiity in its executive ranks for much of the past decade. It has had four heads of its troubled North American operations in the past four years.

This has cost the company talent at a key juncture in its history.
I'm anticipating that the concerted effort to improve leadership, if executed effectively, will provide some useful lessons for other companies, whether or not they produce cars.