Alan Mulally is probably one of the best turnaround CEOs of our time. He saved Ford Motor Company, making it succeed through one of the worst moments for the automotive industry in recent history. Before that, Mulally helped overhaul Boeing and even though he didn’t make it to CEO there, he sure proved that he knew how to get a multinational corporation back on track.
Since a lot of people seem to think that Microsoft is applying the successful formula to renew itself, I decided to read the book “American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company“, which explains how Mulally did it.
Here is what I learned from him.
- Data-driven decisions should drive the business: don’t let your intuition mislead you, gather key data from the industry and its market, the company and its products, analyze it and use the knowledge to understand the environment.
- Create a plan and adapt it as you go: define a clear path that leads to the company’s success, always based on real data, and follow it. Constantly adapt the plan to reflect reality. Trust the data.
- Produce what customers want and value: don’t do simply what’s easier, do what needs to be done to please the customer.
- Aim for quality excellence: surpass customers’ expectations in quality. Be better than your competitors and be consistent.
- Have a lean company: reduce overhead, remove overlaps, cut unnecessary processes. Repurpose teams, unify efforts, reuse resources.
- Fail fast, recover faster: embrace failure, understand it, learn from it. Try again and move on.
- Teamwork is essential: remove anything and anyone that prevents collaboration. Have a positive attitude, negativity is contagious, don’t let it spread. Create an environment of honesty and trust. Ensure everyone understands the goal.
- Change takes time and effort from all: changes don’t happen overnight. Relentless work and perseverance with the plan are the way to go.
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