Daily Podcast: Buy the Right Dog
Failing upwards is a very strange concept, one that I don't pretend to understand. For example, Mark Fields took the reins of Ford's doomed-from-birth Premier Automotive Group (PAG) from founder Wolgang Reitzle in 1998. During Field's four-year tenure, PAG continued its inexorable decline. Fields didn't staunch Jaguar's wounds (i.e. kill the X-type) or introduce hit models (i.e. the Jaguar F-type) or do anything to pull PAG into profit (i.e. launch the Volvo XC90). And yet his service at PAG earned Fields the position of President of the Americas and a temporary slot as CEO-in-waiting. No doubt Fields is a handsome, energetic, personable, intelligent and hard-working Ford employee. But it seems that his ascension has more to do with these traits than what business people like to call "results." The fact that Fields is still in situ tells me that Ford's diseased corporate culture remains intact– which is far more worrying prospect than even its bone dry product pipeline. Can ex-Boeing CEO Alan Mulally retrain Ford's old guard in his new (old) ways? Maybe. But I'm reminded of a piece of advice I found in an Atlantic magazine article some 20 years ago. What's the trick to training a dog? Answer above.