“If your not moving forward, your moving nowhere!”
Looking to the future, the century-old automaker just replaced its chief executive. Here’s what you can learn from the move.
Mark Fields took over as Ford Motor Company’s CEO less than three years ago. In that time, he was able to lead a major turnaround, with Ford posting record profits in 2015.
More recently, though, there were signs of trouble. Profits in the first quarter dropped sharply, and the company’s share price has dropped nearly 40 percent since Fields took over. For these reasons and more, on Monday Ford replaced Fields with Jim Hackett, who joined the company’s board of directors in 2013.
So where did Fields go wrong?
There were various factors that went into Fields’s replacement, but William C. Ford Jr., great-grandson of the company’s founder and the current chairman at Ford, recently clued us into one of the biggest problems: “Our world has changed dramatically,” he stated. “Look at the pace of change and the competitors coming into our space, and we need to match or beat that.”
Ford’s major challenge is an important one, because it’s the same hurdle that faces every company on the planet–and we can sum it up in one sentence:
If you’re not moving forward, you’re headed in the wrong direction.
The New Competitors
Ford no longer has to compete only against its classic rivals, which have had their own problems in recent years. Now, the company has to reckon with a rapidly evolving industry which is promising new tech that includes self-driving cars.
And we haven’t even gotten to electric-car maker Tesla, which, despite never posting an annual profit, recently passed both Ford and GM to become the most valuable automotive company in the U.S., according to market cap. (Interestingly, Tesla founder Elon Musk recently gave some golden advice about keeping a forward-thinking mentality.)
“Ford has to decide whether ride-hailing apps like Uber mean that Millennials won’t buy cars,” writes CNN Money’s Chris Isidore. “And it must decide whether the people that do buy cars will want an electric vehicle, or whether low oil prices mean they’ll stick with the internal combustion engines pioneered by Henry Ford a century ago.”
Ford’s new CEO Jim Hackett has developed a reputation for dealing well with these types of problems. He transformed furniture maker Steelcase into a powerhouse by capitalizing on new trends led by tech companies across the U.S., like the open office. Most recently, Hackett led the Ford subsidiary responsible for accelerating “the company’s plans to design, build, grow, and invest in emerging mobility services.”
Is Hackett the right man for the job? Time will tell. But we can take some major lessons from Ford’s recent decision.
Why You Should Care
It’s not just automotive companies that are facing a rapidly changing landscape. New technology has created new problems and solutions at lightning speed: remote work. The gig economy. An intensified war for top talent.
It’s not enough to just start the dialogue regarding these issues. If you’re not already taking action, you’re already behind.
As I put it recently (in connection with some great advice from Amazon’s Jeff Bezos):
A lot of business leaders claim to support bias for action, but they don’t practice what they preach. Either they refuse to green-light any project that strays outside their comfort zone or they indirectly sabotage the project by not providing the resources or support it would need to succeed.
So, in your work, endeavor to:
See the big picture
Focus on providing value
Be a learn-it-all, not a know-it-all
Above all, remember: Your success depends on continually moving forward.
Because the only constant in life is change.
PUBLISHED ON: MAY 24, 2017; By Justin Bariso, Founder, Insight. INC.COM
Picture Credit: Getty Images