So Will This help Ford’s Lean Efforts?

    4 – Bill Ford replaced as Ford CEO by Boeing's Alan Mulally

    So, will this help? Will Mulally help drive Ford to be more lean?I'm not close to Aero or Boeing at all.

    A google search showed that Mulally was the sponsor or leader of Boeing's lean efforts. Do you think it will translate to the auto world? Is leadership more important than auto knowledge? I'd be curious to hear what the Boeing and Ford people think. Click “comments” to chime in.

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    Mark Graban
    Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


    1. I’m not a Ford person or a Boeing person, but I’m an aerospace person/watcher who’s the son of a 37 year Ford retiree. Mulally, if I remember right, was the 777 program leader prior to taking over Boeing’s Commercial Aircraft business. The triple seven is easily the most successful aircraft in the world today, allowing Boeing to overtake Airbus after years in second place. Aerospace is NOT a lean industry, but Boeing has some of the leanest production lines in the industry. The 737 is rolling off the first moving assembly line for a large aircraft since Ford quit making B-24s in 1945. I think it’s safe to assume that Mulally is committed to lean and pushed it at Boeing to great heights, but given that the aerospace industry is so far behind automotive, will he be able to push Ford far enough to make the difference?

    2. Will Mulally SAVE Ford? I’m not sure – sometimes the relief pitcher comes into the game too late after the damage has been done.

      He’s not the perfect guy, but the perfect guy doesn’t exist. He needs to get into the trenches, but Ford’s got 1,000s of people that know cars. They have no one, or no one in the right position, that understands change and turnaround. Mulally’s that guy.

      Everwhere I go, people say “our industry is different.” It’s a constant excuse and barrier. Is the auto industry SO DIFFERENT that no one from outside the industry can lead them? I don’t think so.

      I’m not exactly buying Ford stock, but I think Mulally is the first “BOLD MOVE” we’ve seen from Ford yet.

    3. From today’s WSJ, it sounds like Bill Ford has been fighting a battle for the company’s culture and leadership style:

      “Mr. Ford shuffled his executive team several times, searching for a combination of subordinates who shared his desire for a teamwork-oriented, collegial management culture — something he often complained was missing at Ford. Yesterday, Mr. Ford praised Mr. Mulally as an executive with a strong track record for building teamwork in a large organization.”

    4. I’m encouraged to read that Mulally was chief engineer for the 777 plane. That’s better for Ford, I think, than somebody coming through the traditional finance/HBS route.


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