Mark's note: It's great to welcome Andy Wagner back to the blog. Read his older posts here.
General Motors, Chrysler, and Toyota have been dominating the headlines in recent months with their financial and, now, quality troubles, while some surprising things have been happening to the Detroit Three's perpetual number two player: Ford. The company posted profit in 2009 and expects to end 2010 with its second profit after three years of loss, despite an economy that's still stuttering. Lincoln claimed the top spot on JD Power's Dependability Survey, sharing it with Porsche. The 2010 Motor Trend Car of the Year was the Ford Fusion, a car quickly gaining on Accord and Camry in sales, boasting a hybrid version with best in class 41-mpg fuel economy. Now Ford shares are at a five year high on Wall Street.
At the heart of the turnaround: Toyota fan and Ford CEO Alan Mulally.
There's no doubt that Mulally's turnarounds at Boeing's Commercial division in the 1990s and Ford in recent years involved a healthy dose of disrespect for people: layoffs, plant closings and wage cuts, but what has emerged in both cases is a company where people are engaged and focused on solving problems to give customers the value they want.
Listen to Mulally's own words, describing his “no blame” approach to elevating problems and engaging people in this Washington Post video (it's only about 3 minutes).
Be your own judge, but I hear echoes of Dr. Deming.
Disclosure: My father's a Ford retiree after 37-years of service. My brother bought Ford stock at $2/share and “feels like he hit the lottery”. I was born in Dearborn, MI and there's probably something in the water.
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