People are still picking at the wounded GM after their recent hammering from Anton Valukas, former federal prosecutor, who issued his scathing report about the company’s handling of their Chevy Cobalt ignition switch problem.

In following the story, I was interested in a piece in the New York Times that was published on 27th June, which compared Ford motor company’s ‘rise from the ashes’ with GM’s current fall.

Two years ago, former reporter for The Detroit News, Bryce Hoffman, published a book entitled “American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company.”

Mulally, who moved from Boeing to became Ford’s chief executive in 2006 is credited with being the driving force behind saving Ford and a significant factor in that turnaround, was by doing what Mary Barra hopes to do at G.M. Transforming the culture.

Four factors that appeared to have major influence in transforming Ford’s culture were:

  1. Coming up with a vision and plan.
  2. Sticking with the vision and the plan. The vision and plan were repeated at the beginning of virtually every meeting, whether the audience were employees, analysts, journalists… Ford had been notorious for changing its business plan every six months. That stopped under Mulally.
  3. Tackling the culture. Ford had a winner take all, careerist culture, with executives often making themselves look good by making ‘rivals’ look bad.
  4. Overhauling the compensation system. Rewards for divisional performance were changes to reward for meeting Ford’s larger goals. Suddenly it paid to help each other out

In a recent New York Times interview with Joe Nocera, Hoffman said “Mulally had several big advantages over Barra. First, he was an outsider; he could easily see what was wrong with the culture because he had never been steeped in it. Second, the system he brought to Ford was one that he had already mastered at Boeing — he knew it would work. Barra seems to understand at least some of what is wrong with G.M.’s culture. The tougher question is whether she knows how to change it.”

Cultural Question 
Where is your organisation vulnerable from internal counter cultures?

Other posts you might be interested in

What Role Does Your Culture Play In Your Business?

What Role Does Your Culture Play In Your Business?

Have you ever stopped to consider this question: What role does your organisation’s culture play in your business? You might be surprised at some of the answers you generate from considering this question, and be inspired by the understanding that emerges from your answers.

READ MORE
Would Your Business Get a 4A Culture Rating?

Would Your Business Get a 4A Culture Rating?

Just as companies and countries have their creditworthiness evaluated by agencies like Standard and Poors, and Moody’s, organisations can evaluate their ‘cultureworthiness’ against my 4A rating scale.

READ MORE
The Haka and High Performance

The Haka and High Performance

As a regular keynote speaker I am always paying attention to which of the points I make during a presentation are having the biggest impact on the audience. My most popular keynote is on the New Zealand Maori Haka and the lessons it contains for creating high performance company cultures.

READ MORE