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Interview with Ford’s Alan Mulally

One of the cover stories of the Kansas City Star yesterday was an article about Ford President, Alan Mulally.  It was a great piece on Mr. Mulally.  He is originally from Lawrence, Kansas and grew up dreaming of being an astronaut.

The article is more of a feel good piece, highlighting Mr. Mulally’s roots to Kansas City and Lawrence.  There is one section that highlights some things he did when arriving at Ford.

Mulally told his colleagues: “The most important thing is we pull together as a team. We’re going to get real clear about leadership. … We’re going to help each other.”

Scanning the conference room, he noticed team members fiddling with their BlackBerrys during meetings. That practice, and whispering to people next to them, would end.

“I think you should listen to the person talking,” he said.

This seems like basic respect for people.  As much as listening to people seems like common sense and the right thing to do, people just don’t do it.  As nice as Blackberries are they can be a curse too at times.

Here are other highlights:

He dropped in at dealerships to try his hand at selling Fords — and succeeded with at least two customers.

He asked: Why did we stop making the Taurus? (So the Taurus returned.) And why isn’t Ford moving faster to develop smaller, fuel-efficient vehicles? And, excuse me, must you keep saying things are fine when we’re headed for a $17 billion loss?

I like how he went to the dealership and tried to sell cars.  What a great way to ‘go and see’ what customers are saying about the product.  Mr. Mulally also asked the hard questions and didn’t sugar coat things.  I have heard the story several times about asking how things could be going well when they were losing money.  It was good to see the story directly from him.

It is great to see Ford turn down the government money and turning things around.  In a time when excuses are easy to come by, Alan Mulally won’t allow it.  I hope Ford can keep the turnaround going.

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