A recent article by Michael Stallard highlights 7 practices Alan Mulally, CEO Ford Motor Company, used to save Ford from Chrysler’s fate. Although one assumes financial controls, QC and other common business practices were part of the stew, the article focuses on culture and data driven outcomes (manage by data):

  • Communicate an inspiring vision: He created Visionary Phrases such as: “One Ford Plan”; “Opening the highways for all mankind”; “Freedom of mobility so customers can access opportunities for growth”.
  • Make your values known: Mulally distributed wallet-sized cards with Ford’s business plan on one side, 16 expected behaviors (values) on the other.
  • Live it: He behaves as a coach, not dictator. He rewards leaders who help others, and encourages cross discipline, business segment, knowledge, support and cooperation.
  • Win-Win: He approaches all problems with a win-win mindset, including union negotiations.
  • Everyone on the same page: They have weekly “Business Plan Review” or BPR meetings attended by Global Leadership Teams. Goals are color coded green for on target, yellow for at risk, red for off target. Problems are identified, teams formed to solve them, with follow-up. Problem solving teams are expected to find, identify and execute solutions.
  • Positive “Can do” Attitude: He leads with encouragement rather than criticism.
  • Results Orientation: Mulally talks about “relentless implementation” & “let the data set you free”. He openly acknowledges that consistent positive results build unity and clarity among the team.

These seven practices created what Stallard calls a “Connection Culture.” Employees are engaged, values are stated, practiced and shared, behavior is rewarded, profits and shareholder value go up. He states surveys show 70% of employees in the US are disconnected at work; not giving their best efforts.

We all instinctively get this. Some have been lucky enough to have worked in similar environments and remember the fantastic success we enjoyed. The money was good, and it felt good.

Ford’s success is an inspiration. The last 40 years have not been kind to the US automobile industry, much of its pain self-inflicted. It is notable Mulally came from Boeing. Notable, but perhaps not essential. It all comes back to leadership.