Monday, August 15, 2011

Changing the Culture at Ford

I watched a CNBC special last night about the transformation taking place at Ford under Alan Mullaly. I found one story particularly interesting. Ford had a culture in which managers feared disclosing problems or admitting problems in front of senior executives. During the early months of Mullaly's tenure, EVP Mark Fields spoke about a planned new product launch. He disclosed a problem with the vehicle and recommended a launch delay. As Mullaly tells it, many people looked around the room wondering what would happen next. Putting a problem out in the open like that did not happen usually at Ford. If it did occur, the consequences were not typically positive. Mullaly did something rather remarkable. He started applauding right there in the meeting! He celebrated Fields' openness and willingness to confront the problem head-on. He told team that he didn't want managers keeping bad news from him. What a terrific leadership moment!

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