Ford's saviour?

Bill Ford has turned to a man who saved one American icon to rescue another - Ford.

by The Economist
Last Updated: 23 Jul 2013

He is Alan Mulally, who successfully managed Boeing's commercial-aircraft group since 1998, steering it out of danger during a particularly difficult time for the company. It was having a hard time competing with Airbus and did not have sufficient backing from its suppliers to take on the competition in a price war.

Mulally ran a war-room style operation from his office, keeping in touch constantly with his top executives and using a hard data approach to guide his strategy.

His tough side was revealed when he reduced staff numbers from 120,000 to 50,000 following the industry's decline in 2001 and replaced one of the company's right-hand men with Scott Carson, who is now named as Mulally's successor at Boeing.

When he needed to ditch a new plane - the Sonic Cruiser - he did so in favour of something with more economy and comfort rather than speed. The new 787 dreamliner has been its successful replacement.

Can Mulally apply his knowledge about the commercial airline business to cars? There are similarities such as the fact they are both capital-intensive. But there are differences, notably that planes are sold to businesses at a rate of 1,000 per year whereas cars are sold in the millions and need to suit local markets.

Ford needs to connect better with its customers and the company needs strong, decisive leadership.

Ford's new pilot
The Economist, September 9th 2006
Review by Morice Mendoza

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