My Rating of “American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company” by Bryce Hoffman: 8 / 10
I was listening to Simon Sinek online recently. He made reference to one of Alan Mulally’s classic Business Plan Review (BPR) meetings at Ford. It’s a key lesson for all leaders. We typically want to communicate good news and show everything as green. Yet when the opposite is the case it spells trouble both in the short, medium and long term. Whilst culture was just one of the many problems to be solved at The Ford Motor Company, Bryce Hoffman documents these cultural aspects along with the other issues into a great story on Ford’s transformation.
American Icon is a well written book. The research and detail was evident throughout (Note: Hoffman had access to many Ford executives including Mulally himself). Hoffman provides a well crafted story with examples, lessons and takeaways in every part of the book. I was really drawn in by the level of detail that Hoffman provided from the state of Ford prior to Mulally through to the various crisis that the team endured and ultimately defeated. He covers Ford’s The Way Forward re-structuring plan (more on this here), the renegotiating of agreements with the United Automobile Workers union, the Global Financial Crisis, Loan agreements, divestments and more.
The biggest lessons were in how Mulally rallied his troops as a good leader should. Mulally’s consistently positive attitude along with his relentless pursuit to change the Ford company has made him an icon in business and leadership circles. He did it at Boeing and he did it again at Ford. His legacy will be remembered in the business world and this book is just a mere insight into this journey. I was left thinking who really is the American Icon? Was it Ford or Mulally? Either way you come away learning important lessons in business along with darling story that is The Ford Motor Company.
Three key takeaways from the book:
- Coming together is the beginning, keeping together is progress, working together is success.
- Ford was seen as a sobering alcoholic. GM and Chrysler were seen as two drunks. Congress saw them all as wineoes.
- The automotive industry in America had at the time an overlap of 80% of its suppliers. If either Ford, GM or Chrysler went down it could (and would) have brought the rest of them down including their suppliers.