Sacrifices at every level but the Top


WXYZ: Investigators

Update January 18, 2007: Ford's Fields Finally Sacrifices

This was sent my way from a friend who works at a Ford-related company. I can't imagine how the CEO of Ford can go to the White House and moan about the unfair business conditions surrounding them, then they throw around money like this for a top executive.

Mark Fields, Executive VP of Ford Motor Co, said in August, “We're changing our culture to adopt a change or die mentality that is rejecting business as usual.”

That said, Fields enjoys some great perks:

For weeks, we've been watching as he usually slips off every Friday afternoon to Ford's hangar at Detroit Metro Airport and then climbs aboard one of six Ford jets that whisks him to a private airport near his Palm Beach County Florida home.

Fields is usually the only passenger—plus an aircraft crew of three—but on occasion, we've spotted his family riding along for free, too. Well, it's free for the Fields' but far from free to the floundering Ford Motor Company.

The 1,100 mile, 2-and-a-half hour, one-way trip from Detroit to Boca Raton in a Gulfstream-5? It's not cheap at $7,000 an hour but then, add in the costs of the crew and their weekend meals and lodging expenses at what is said to be a luxury Palm Beach area hotel, and then of course the costs to fly Fields back to Detroit Sunday night… can it be $70,000 a week or more?—it certainly can when the jet makes two trips to Florida, one to drop him off and another to go back and pick him up?

A Ford insider claims he's seen paperwork that says it's $50,000 a week but it's unclear what's not included in that number.

I guess they reject business as usual, except for pricey executive perks. Some of you will moan that the “free market” sets pay and benefit levels for executives. Sure, Mark Field *can* take that perk. But *should* he, as a leader, put himself in that position?

…Ford's top leadership insists, “We'll do everything we can to ease the burdens [on employees].” Those were the words of Ford Chairman William Clay Ford. “We all have to change and we all have to sacrifice but I believe this is the path to winning,”

With the problems Ford, the company, has had, I'm sure everyone has to cut back and make sacrifices.

…last year, [Fields] still collected a million-dollar bonus, part of a pay package that totaled well over $3 million.

“In some cases you have ‘critical-skill people' that the company can't function without. That might be in tool making, could be a UAW employee,” explains David Cole. We asked Cole whether he felt Mark Fields was among those employees. “Uh, I don't think so,” he said.

Fields has said, “We are making sacrifices at every level.”

David Cole, you are my hero for saying that on TV.

The TV reporter sums it up:

Ford refuses to confirm or deny a figure, but it certainly could be the cost of one worker's job every week Fields flies home.

Is this not a “lean” issue? Maybe not. Does anyone know what perks that Toyota execs get? I think that Fields' jet trips don't rank high on the “respect for people” scale. It's certainly not the type of “we're all in this together and need to sacrifice” behavior that inspires the troops to work together for the sake of the company. It's behavior that says “I'll take all I can get” and it encourages others to do the same. I'm sure an employee who takes a stapler home would get treated worse for his “theft.”

If Fields needs to sacrifice, maybe instead of staying at a “luxury resort”, his crew can stay someplace cheaper.

“You're saving the company, you must be some sort of genius!!!”

“No, but my private airplane's crew did stay at a Holiday Inn Express over the weekend.”

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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. Mark, your blog goes a long way towards explaining why Detroit can’t make money making cars while Nagoya can.

    Toyota says “hitozukuri wa monozukuri” or “Making things is starts with making people”.

    There is no way Mr. Fields is going to Lead people or lead a lasting and effective Lean effort at Ford.

    “Backdated Options Pad CEO Pay by Average 10%” reports the WSJ today. As if executive compensation wasn’t skewed already, 850 U.S. CEOs cheated for an extra 10%.

    I guess it’s “Making money starts with making up false dates for stock options.” Thieves.

  2. Maybe the problem is that Ford can not attract talent to move to Detroit. I used to live there, and now I am free. If they forced him to move his family to Detroit he would probably quit. He is not the only Detroit auto exectutive living in FLA. How about the GM CFO who lives on Miami Beach? Maybe the auto companies should see this and consider moving also. If they were in Chicago, they could at least attract people from outside SE Michigan.

  3. I understand not attracting top talent to Detroit (I grew up in the area and left). But, I think the biggest problem is the expensive private jet service. It really sends a bad message and sets a bad example.

    I wouldn’t suggest he necessarily move to Detroit, but fly first class with mere mortals.

  4. Sadly, there is never true sacrificese’s at the top. This effects employees moral greatly and very deeply. Same games are going on just the chairs have been moved around. My medical insurance costs at Ford are now higher than U of MI employees. Additionally, the raises don’t even equal the increases in benefit costs that we are now paying. The dental insurance is literally worthless. Ford was sold a sack of lies by the carriers. And yes they never really did lay -off the high level directors at the top by the boat loads. Just moved the chairs around. I hope Alan Mullahy is watching the ship at the top. Nepotism is wild at the top always has been.


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