New Leadership at FordHard on the memo Bill Ford sent employees on three days ago, today he sent a new memo announcing that he is turning his role as CEO over to Alan Mulally, an engineer who has risen through a 37-year career at Boeing to serve most recently as executive vice president and chief executive of the company's commercial airline division. Bill Ford will continue as Chairman of the Board of Ford.
And so the unfolding story of leadership at Ford that was the subject of a previous post, begins a new episode.
Mulhally comes to Ford with a strong track record, including making Business Week's list of the best leaders of 2005. Business Week commended Mulally "not only for rescuing the fabled commercial airplane division during its darkest hours [the period of distress in the airline business following 9/11, combined with tough competition from Airbus] but for putting it back on the path to prosperity."
Mulcally's turnaround effort at Boeing, which involved streamlining production and introducing successful new products (the 777 and a new version of the 747), bears a strong resemblance to what Ford is now undertaking.1 That parallel leadership experience is the major reason Mulally was recruited. As Bill Ford explained in his memo:
"One of the three strategic priorities that I've focused on this year is company leadership. While I knew that we were fortunate to have outstanding leaders driving our operations around the world, I also determined that our turnaround effort required the additional skills of an executive who has led a major manufacturing enterprise through such challenges before.In his memo, Bill Ford cites other strengths Mulally offers "deep experience in customer satisfaction, manufacturing, supplier relations and labor relations, all of which have applications to the challenges of Ford."
I will continue to watch the unfolding Ford leadership story with real interest.
1 Interestingly, as described by James P. Lewis in Working Together: 12 Principles for Achieving Excellence in Managing Projects, Teams, and Organizations, Mulally, when leading development of the Boeing 777, drew on lessons he picked up from Ford's experience in developing the Taurus. If you'd like to read an excellent account of how the Taurus went from concept to production, have a look at Mary Walton's 1997 book, Car: A Drama of the American Workplace.