Payment for What?

According to the San Francisco Chronicle of September 9th, in the Daily Digest, Alan Mulally, the incoming new CEO of Ford, will be paid:

  • An annual salary of $2 million.
  • A signing bonus of $7.5 million.
  • $11 million to offset the compensation he is giving up by leaving Boeing.
  • $10.5 million in stock options.
  • $11 million if Ford changes control or lets him go for any reason other than “cause” before 2011.

What promises do you suppose this man is really making to the stockholders, to the customers, to the citizens of Detroit, Michigan, and the United States? That he will “try harder”? That he will turn around the situation that has been brewing at Ford for 40 or 50 years? Impossible. No single human being, from outside the company, can fulfill such a promise. If no promise of that sort is being made, then what crazy habits have we arrived at for compensating senior executives in this country? What kind of a world are we making in which business executives are paid like rock stars and world-class athletes, to “play” in games where the play of the game is private, and success is measured the way it is in a modern business like Ford.

What is the board of Ford doing? Cutting 30,000 jobs, closing 14 plants, and investing $30 million in the dream that Mr. Mulally will leap tall buildings in a single bound?

© Copyright 2006, Chauncey Bell and BABDI, LLC. All rights reserved worldwide.

What Were They Thinking???

Greg asks,

“How do people who are suffering in the middle of work that is horrifically organized and conducted tolerate that?”

“Does anyone really notice that they are not happy, or are we so used to the pain and convinced that it is inevitable that we go along? Do modern people just have a high pain threshold?”

“Is the cultural orientation of people in business so oriented to “producing” that people do not notice the way that things are being done?”

“What are managers and others listening to when, in the middle of observing and managing actions, they keep doing the same things and don’t stop to ask what’s happening and why people are doing things the way they are?”

The questions, he proposes, bring to the fore just how difficult it is to pay attention to our current, habitual ways of doing things, to break up old habits, and build new ones.

Heidegger might have said, in reply, that the people in question were, in fact, not thinking. In these circumstances, we might recognize that people are involved in transparent, recurrent coping with situations and circumstances in which what is happening, and the actions that are possible for dealing with what is happening are completely pre-programmed and automatic. The fact that we say we are thinking under these circumstances is, itself, only another part of our automaticity.

How do you break that up? We speak of pain as a goad to changing behavior. In training designers, I caution against the notion of people liking or being ‘comfortable’ with situtations and proposals. Normally, when everyone is comfortable, nothing important is happening. An effective designer must develop the skill of bringing the right discomfort to the right people in the right moments.

© Copyright 2006, Chauncey Bell and BABDI, LLC. All rights reserved worldwide.

When the Same “Error” is Repeated Over and Over ….

Hal Macomber, writing in Reforming Project Management, tells us that Jim Womack, has been advising Ford CEOs for many years about how to stay out of trouble: ‘copy Toyota:’

“…my prescription for new Ford CEO Alan Mullaly is the same (as it was for former CEO Jac Nassar): Fundamentally rethink the supplier management system. Fundamentally rethink the product development system. And fundamentally rethink the production system from order to raw materials and from raw materials to delivery, with special attention to the information management system. (Much can still be learned from Ford’s Mazda subsidiary, which became an able pupil of Toyota after a crisis in 1973.) Above all, fundamentally rethink what mangers do and how they do it in order to regain the gemba consciousness that originally took Ford to world dominance. In brief, Ford needs to remake itself once more, this time in the image of the company that copied Ford’s original system: Toyota.”

Why is he repeating a failed prescription, and as if the listener has not attempted to apply it? Greg points out that there is a major failure of speaking and listening happening here. Is what Womack is saying not sensical? Are the listeners not listening? Are they interpreting something different than what Womack is thinking himself?

Can it be possible that no one at Ford has done the homework to re-think what they are doing? Yes, it is.

More likely is the way that Greg put it: the cultural background in which people in the US tend to ask these questions – and to listen to Jim Womack, for example – is shallowly connected to questions of improving for the next quarter, for the next model year, and improving the things they are making. In that tradition, it is easy for no one to notice that what needs to be changed is the way that people are thinking about what they are doing, how they are oriented to the business, how they speak and listen to one another.

We don’t like the interpretation of our earlier list of possible sources of the failure of Ford, are they simply too stupid, block-headed, pig-headed, obtuse, perversely concerned with greedy topics, ensnarled in historic fights with labor and labor advocates, etc., etc.??


© Copyright 2006, Chauncey Bell and BABDI, LLC. All rights reserved worldwide.