In 2006, Ford Motor Company was in dreadful shape. Its stock price had fallen 50 percent versus just two years ago and the company was on its way to losing $17 billion that year. Fortunately, the CEO, William Clay “Bill” Ford realized his inability to turn things around and hired Alan Mulally who had spent over thirty years working for Boeing in the commercial aviation area. Analysts scratched their heads; how is a non-car guy ever going to save Ford?
Gutsy Leadership Blog
For a leader, it is always heartening to have all of the people around you agree that the team is on the right path with no downside risks. The problem is that in many such cases, the culture of the team is such that sceptics just don’t have the nerve to bring up any concerns. It takes a skillful leader to give the sceptics in the group the comfort to bring up their concerns.
In the advertising business, effective frequency is the number of times a person, on average, must be exposed to an advertising message before it is well understood by the viewer. The topic of effective frequency has been studied thoroughly over the past four decades.
Several years ago there was some interesting research on employee motivation that really stuck with me. The conclusions were based on a massive study that involved twenty-six project teams from seven companies, comprising 238 individuals. Each participant filled out a survey at the end of each day, recording their moods, motivation levels, perceptions of the work environment that day, as well as the work they did, the progress they made, and the sense of creative output. The resulting 12,000 diary entries captured many ups and downs and provided a unique look at the inner workings of work life on a micro level.
The statistician J. D. “Dave” Power is often referred to as the high priest of customer satisfaction. The company name of J.D. Power and Associates is well known for its high profile automotive quality rankings.
When the new CEO of Campbell’s Soups was put into the job in 2011, she was faced with some big issues; the innovation pipeline was virtually dry and sales of the core products were declining. Even worse, she sensed very little energy within the organization.
I read an interesting article recently about a start-up of a few years ago called Grockit. It had only 15 employees and was focused on launching a set of online education tools based on a game that would teach students math, English, and other subjects. The CEO of the organization was the key driver of the effort and when the company was right in the midst of developing a beta version of the software, he was riding home on his Vespa scooter and got hit by a truck. The injuries were serious; broken ribs, lacerations, and most critically, a kidney that was severely damaged.
Several years ago leadership guru Rosabeth Moss Kanter described a memorable way to think about the flexibility needed in successfully leading an organization. Specifically, there are times when you need to step way back and look at a broad view of a situation, which she calls “zooming out,” while at other times you need to “zoom in,” looking closely at a particular area to see in detail what is going on. Here are two examples of failure in this area.
Several years ago there was an article in the Harvard Business Review that really stuck with me. It was about an individual moving into a new managerial job and what it would take to become a great leader of that new organization versus just an adequate leader. While the author went into a whole bunch of different issues related to the topic, what I took away, when I blended it with my own set of battle scars from decades in the business world, was a basic framework for thinking about the key dimensions of a leader’s role.
In a recently published book called Driving Honda, the author makes the case that Honda is one of the most innovative companies in the world. That innovation has certainly played out in the financial results of the company in that it has never posted a loss in its history. Honda’s operating profit ratios of about 5% consistently top the industry. Its stock price has just about doubled since September, 2008 when the economy crashed. Most impressive is that 75% of its cars and trucks sold in the last 25 years are still on the road.