Ford is Worse Off Than GM?


Chicago Tribune | Stuck at side of road:

Interesting article here.

“Ford, they say, suffers from years of short-term thinking and billions in questionable investments. While it tried to adopt the highly-efficient management strategies pioneered by Toyota, those efforts have been hobbled by a lack of firm, consistent leadership at the top and a divisive, feudalistic corporate culture that has grown up over the years.

The result is a high-cost, inflexible operation that leaves Ford trailing even GM when it comes to efficiency.”

Short-term thinking, the absolute opposite of the Toyota Production System mindset. I'm sure the lack of leadership and short-term focus would have undercut any well-intended shopfloor lean efforts.

The whole story is a reminder that lean/TPS is a “business system” not a “factory system.” Unless the whole company is aligned with the lean mindset, it's probably doomed to fail.

A lot of the blame is thrown at former CEO Jacques Nasser:

“Nasser discouraged or drove out a lot of talented people by focusing on short-term profits at the expense of long-term investment in cars and trucks,” said Jim Hossack, vice president of AutoPacific, an automotive research and consulting firm. “He made a lot of people think that the best contribution they could make to Ford was to stay home.”

Best contribution is to stay home? That sounds like the Jobs Bank.

Since Nasser, management has been in an almost permanent state of flux. Ford has had a parade of operating executives and sales chiefs–some lasting only months.

There's another difference… in a lean/TPS model, it's the system that makes an impact, not the “heroes” or “saviors” like Ford's Mark Fields. How can you have consistent performance when each new executive brings in a new mindset or program? Toyota executives are trained in the Toyota system. Sure, they can drive evolutionary change (kaizen), but they don't start from scratch with each CEO.

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Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. His latest book is Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. He also published the anthology Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.

  1. Anonymous says

    This kind of information, I’m sure, also drives away smart investors. I’d be interested in knowing if any thier are any mutual funds on the market that invest only on companyies that have sucessfully transitioned to a lean bussiness system.

  2. Mark Graban says
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