A little bit of Ford

Yes, I’m kicking them when they’re down, but it’s important.

A couple of decades ago, Ford had everything. Cash, brand, distribution, political influence, a trained workforce…

Then, through nothing but management hubris and arrogance, they destroyed the company. Making cars is not an unprofitable undertaking, unless you insist on making it one. At just about every turn the company ignored the market, alienated their workforce, distanced themselves from their distribution network, vilified their customers and chose short-term expediency ahead of long-term change. They lobbied to keep gas mileage standards high (doing the opposite would have increased the market for cars). They lobbied to keep SUVs unregulated (and got addicted to a short-term high-profit alternative to cars) and they bought remarkable brands and made them average.

There were hard things they could have chosen to do, things that would have meant change. There were short-term hardships they could have endured to fix their dealer network or reinvent the way they designed and built cars. Instead, they stayed inside the Detroit beltway, played the car game, managed the stock price and paid themselves a fortune.

Monday, when you sit down with your organization to plan the next decade, perhaps you could ask, "what would the top people at Ford do?" and then do precisely the opposite.