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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

Ford Motor Co., recently decided the time

his job daunting.

was right to shake up his employees.

just as it had for most of the 20th Century. 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.

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.

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

And, even with a bloodline to the pioneer au-

Ford isn’t the first executive to make this

tomaker, Bill Ford didn’t get his job because

mistake. It happens every day.

ing their interests elsewhere,” he told com-

Let’s start off by agreeing that Bill Ford is

to inspire those who work for them to pursue

he’s a nice guy or has a friendly smile. He’s known as a shrewd and innovative strategist.

Bill Ford probably knows that. But right now, 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

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 stepping 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 21st Century

PAGE 

a common goal.

© Copley News Service

Ford e-mail headed in wrong direction  

Bill Ford is a smart man. He is a nice guy or has a friendly smile. He is known as a shrewd and innovative strategist. The great-grandson of...

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