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Special Columns
Arindam Chaudhuri, Editor-in-Chief, 4Ps B&M Editor-in-Chief
Arindam Chaudhuri
A.Sandeep Editor's Desk
A.Sandeep
From The Editorial-in-Chief's Desk

A.Sandeep
Editor, 4Ps B&M
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Be Unethical, Be No.1!
If You Believed what’s Written above, you’re The First one who Deserves to be Kicked Out Of Your Company. If Work is Salvation, then ethics is Religion!
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Hold on! Before you burn me at the stake for invoking the unforgivable fanatic, allow me to confess that I have no love lost for this clipper megalomaniac. And I’d hope that none ever follows the narcissistic madness of the man known for many years as Führer und Reichskanzler. Well, political correctness aside, truth in the real world is quite to the contrary. Despite whatever the world might wish for, the fact is that there is at least one quintessential and ubiquitous quality of this Austrian born German deuce that is followed to the tee by leaders of some of the largest and most successful corporations of the world – a quality that had, before WWII, led to Germany becoming the superpower it was; a quality that now is assisting leaders to ensure that their corporations are amongst the most productive and most efficient business units this world has ever seen! Read on and you might catch on to the wave.

William Clay Ford stepped down as Ford’s CEO in 2006, the carmaker was all drenched in a big bowl of hot soup, with the worst market scenario. Detroit had totally given up on Ford. The world had too. William Ford tried hard, but there were no respectable names in the auto space willing to take charge as Ford’s CEO and digest the numbers that threatened Ford’s very existence. Imagine this: During the first half of 2006, while Nissan earned $1800 per vehicle, Toyota and Honda pocketed about $1,400 apiece. Fly westward, and the numbers turn turbid. While GM lost $333 per unit, DaimlerChrysler lost $1,100 during the same period. And Ford? It bled the most – a disquieting $1,400 per vehicle.

Given the state then, what followed in the succeeding years was baffling – despite Ford being the first one expected to crumble first, since December 2008, GM and Chrysler were the ones forced to live through the ignominy of a Fed bailout plan of $110 billion. As for Ford, it managed to become the first one to bounce back into the black sans a revival package, having made $2.72 billion in net profits during FY2009 – the very year GM & Chrysler filed for Chapter 11!

 
And how in heavens did this astounding turnaround happen? The answer, the single change agent, as experts and researchers globally have accepted now, was the recruiting of one man – the most authoritarian CEO that Ford had ever seen after Henry Ford – Alan Mulally. This man, a veteran engineer at Boeing (who was in charge of the Boeing 777 development project), took up the task to play Captain America for Ford Motors in September 2006. Forget about never having been exposed to labour issues in his life (Ford had had enough of it with the UAW in place), or even having never seen a car being assembled before, this new boss of Ford, had never had the chance to make a single pitch as a salesman during his entire career. But what made him victorious was not just his desire to win, but in his viewpoint that what he – and not his team – believed was right. His style was autocratic and simply “results oriented”. When Mulally walked in as CEO, Ford was known as a maker of pick-up trucks and the Mustang. Despite popular displeasure, he forced his strategic planning teams to get a line of more efficient & smaller engines in place. It worked for the company. In his first two months at the company, he went ahead pledging $23.6 billion against Ford’s assets including its logo. Ford’s management disagreed. But Mulally was convinced, and that was enough. The idea of doing away with Jaguar, Land Rover, Aston Martin and Volvo, was his brainchild.

During his first day at work, Mulally went ahead to check Ford’s product line-up. When the engineers laid it out, Alan enquired why the iconic Taurus brand was missing. “Well, we killed it. We made a couple that looked like a football. They didn’t sell very well, so we stopped it,” said one Ford official. To this, Mulally retorted, “What do you mean, you killed it? You stopped the Taurus?!? You’ve got until tomorrow to find a vehicle to put the Taurus name on because that’s why I’m here.” Mulally had no statistics to justify why he wanted the Taurus back in the 21st century. He didn’t need one, because that was him – the authoritarian saviour of Ford, the latest rage in Detroit.

Mulally wanted results. Period. Today, Ford’s employees in US carry plastic cards with four goals printed on one side (which Mulally puts as the “Expected behaviors”) and “One Ford” written on the flipside. “This is me. I wrote it. It’s what I believe in. You can’t make this sh!# up.” He loves taking daily reports and every Thursday, starting 8 am, you can see all there is in the name of bashing up of non-performers in the conference room that Ford’s employees call “the Thunderbird Room”. There are eight clocks on the wall, each representing one time zone and the chair he sits on, he likes calling it the “Pilot’s seat”. Did someone mention narcissistic again?

Under Mulally’s reign of a little over four years, Ford’s Mcap has increased by 370.31% – enough reasons for shareholders to love this 65 year-old imperious monocratic boss.

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