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                                       Ford e-mail headed in wrong direction
                                       [by Michael Kinsman]
                                       Bill Ford thought he had a better idea.




Ford, the chairman and chief executive of          global competition in the car business makes     just as it had for most of the 20th Century.
Ford Motor Co., recently decided the time          his job daunting.
was right to shake up his employees.                                                                He could have made a challenge to every
                                                   Frankly, most of us wouldn’t want his job,       Ford employee to play a role in that, to bring
“Anyone who thinks or attempts to convince         or the sacrifices his family will make to al-    the brains, energy and spirit to work each
you that it’s business as usual at Ford is         low him to adequately tackle the company’s       day for the express purpose of making the
wrong and would best serve us all by pursu-        future.                                          company better.
ing their interests elsewhere,” he told com-
pany employees in an e-mail. “Our heritage         He has to be under enormous pressure. He         Companies - even the largest corporations
of innovation must be reclaimed and renewed        is the great hope of the Ford family that he     in the world - are really nothing more than a
or the greatness of our company will become        will be able to steer the automaker back to      bunch of people working together for a com-
part of our past. It’s that simple.”               brilliance.                                      mon goal.


In other words, it’s Bill’s way or the highway.    The odds certainly are against him accom-        That’s not just a succinct, glib description.
                                                   plishing this.                                   It’s reality.
Let’s start off by agreeing that Bill Ford is
a smart man. The great-grandson of Henry           Yet, it makes no sense to lash out at Ford’s     You hope that deep down every executive
Ford went to college at Princeton and later        employees. These are the very same people        knows this and remembers it every day. It
obtained an MBA at Massachusetts Institute         he will need on his side if his revitalization   doesn’t matter how brilliant your chief ex-
of Technology.                                     plan is to be successful.                        ecutive is, if he or she doesn’t have the ability
                                                                                                    to inspire those who work for them to pursue
And, even with a bloodline to the pioneer au-      Ford isn’t the first executive to make this      a common goal.
tomaker, Bill Ford didn’t get his job because      mistake. It happens every day.
he’s a nice guy or has a friendly smile. He’s                                                       Bill Ford probably knows that. But right now,
known as a shrewd and innovative strategist.       Executives sometimes forget that all the         he should be saying that to his employees,
                                                   great business plans, strategies, resources      not casting threats over their future.
So why does he antagonize the members of           and successes are implemented by the
his company’s work force by inferring that         people who work for them. And, the more          © Copley News Service
they are part of the problem his corporation       motivated and inspired these employees
now faces?                                         are, the more committed they will be to the
                                                   company and its initiatives.
You have to give credit to Ford for step-
ping up to take on the challenge of righting       It would have made a lot more sense for Ford
the course of one of America’s greatest            to send an e-mail message to his employees
companies ever. But these are tough times          that candidly assesses the plight of the cor-
in the auto industry. Failure to properly ad-      poration. He would have discussed its glories
dress environmental concerns, hamstrung            of the past, the immense challenge of trying
by costly salary structures and benefits           to rebuild the company into an entity that
packages as its work force ages, and intense       would be able to thrive in the 2st Century




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