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Ford: Red White and… Blowhard?

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WSJ.com – Mom, Apple Pie and…Toyota?

Ford and it's “Way Forward” leader, Mark Fields, have been trying to wrap the company in the U.S. flag and patriotism.

“Americans really do want to buy American brands,” asserted Ford Executive Vice President Mark Fields in a recent speech. “We will compete vigorously to be America's car company.”

Uh-Oh. That sounds like Harvard Business School kind of talk, this talk of American “brands.” I thought we used to talk about American “cars.” But then again, I'm an MIT guy. If Ford is falling down the trap of “we market brands” rather than “we build cars and trucks” then their “way forward” sounds like a step further into the death spiral.

The problem, as illustrated in the WSJ, is that Ford's top “American Brand,” the Ford Mustang is made with only 65% “U.S. part content.” By comparison, the “transplant” Toyota Sienna minivan, made in Indiana, uses 90% American parts.

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So, are you buying an American “brand”, that helps employ HBS types and their marketing friends at a Dearborn office building? Or, are you buying an American-built car that uses more American-made parts, therefore employing more American workers?

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It's truly a global market. I don't think Ford does themselves, or the United States, any favors by wrapping themselves in the flag. How about they design something better than the Ford 500?

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Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent book is an anthology titled Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also the VP of Improvement & Innovation Services for the technology company KaiNexus.

1 Comment
  1. […] can’t believe I’m about to defend Ford. I’m not a huge believer in the Way Forward, it sounds like a bunch of hype and spin. What Ford (and GM) should work on is designing popular […]

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