By on July 1, 2017

[Image: Ford]

While he’s only been in the big chair for little over a month, Ford Motor Company CEO Jim Hackett has already pinned down a serious problem in need of immediate change. Decision making. Or, more specifically, the need to get the lead out when rapidly changing market trends threaten company profit.

The former chairman of Ford Smart Mobility LLC, who replaced an ousted Mark Fields in late May, was brought in to guide the Blue Oval through a “transformative period” in the industry. One way he might do this is to borrow an idea from the NBA.

Speaking to analysts on Friday, Hackett raised the idea of enacting a decision-making “shot clock” to prevent executives from holding up the game. Under Fields, it seemed the automaker was often playing catch-up to its domestic and foreign rivals.

First, the decision to return the smaller Ranger pickup to North America after a years-long absence was taken only after General Motors found success with its newly midsized Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon. At the same time, longstanding models like the Toyota Tacoma have enjoyed boffo sales. Expect the Ranger to appear in 2019.

Even as automakers were busy pursuing affordable, long-range electric cars, Ford waited until the Chevrolet Bolt and Tesla Model 3 were well along the pipeline before deciding that 100 miles of range maybe wasn’t good enough. As a result, the company’s planned electric crossover won’t arrive until 2020.

This kind of planning needs to stop, Hackett implied. In his first 100 days in the job, the CEO wants the company to make decisions and get plans rolling faster than before.

“Mr. Hackett intends to unpack and accelerate Ford’s pre-existing long-term strategy,” stated JP Morgan’s Ryan Brinkman following the meeting.

It seems the widespread shuffling of top execs following Hackett’s appointment could help in this regard. Citi analyst Itay Michaeli said, “Mr. Hackett acknowledged that past slow decision-making — sometimes caused by confusion over ‘who is in charge’ within newer efforts — has been an issue at Ford.”

Cutting back on administrative costs will be another focus for Hackett. The company’s oversized human resources department, as well as others, found itself in the crosshairs even before Hackett took on the top job. Shortly before Fields’ departure, the company announced sweeping reductions to its white-collar workforce — a measure Hackett must now see through.

While he didn’t state a solution, Hackett also mentioned the need to shore up the company’s weak small car sales.

[Sources: CNBC, Fox Business] [Image: Ford Motor Company]

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24 Comments on “Just Make a Decision Already: Ford CEO Wants Automaker to Pick Up the Pace...”

  • avatar

    Ford made the decision to kill the Ranger and they made the decision to not bring over the global Ranger.

    That isn’t a case of “slow” decisions, it is a case of making (arguable, I guess) poor decisions.

    • 0 avatar

      the old Ranger had the same problem as the Panthers. It was obsolete and would have required a complete re-design. Seriously, it hadn’t had a significant update since 1998. I can jump from my 2011 Ranger into a 1996 and it’s the same interior. and at the time, when Dodge was euthanizing the Dakota and the 1st-gen Colorado/Canyon’s sales were tanking, exiting the segment probably seemed like the right idea.

    • 0 avatar

      From what I remember, Ford chose to wait and see how GM’s “newly midsized” (they were *always* midsized) Colorado/Canyon did. Turns out they are doing fine, so, now we will get the next Ranger. Bada boom, bada bing. Not only was the T6 not designed with North America in mind, it was a dark and uncertain time for automakers in general. Sure, its easy to say “look, they should have done this, or that” freaking half a decade or more later.

      To me, the jury is still out on cheaper electric cars. Most expect them to be popular and to be well on their way to eclipsing gas cars. Well…

      The LEAF is not exactly setting sales charts ablaze, the Model 3 has more hype than substance, and the Bolt is losing money with every sale. Ford has been developing the Model E, and I see nothing wrong with letting other companies be the beta testers of the market before showing up with a product that makes them look like a 1992 Dodge Colt in comparison.

      Ford does take risks, but not blindly and not without precedent. What else do you call putting turbo 6 gas engines and an aluminum body on their single most important product, a product favored by those who are traditionally hesitant to accept major changes?

      Hell, I remember the uproar over the 1997 F-150: it’s too curvy! Too aero! The C/K will crush it in sales! That’s not a truck! Its a Taurus with a bed! Ford f’d it up! OHC engines? Oh, the humanity!!

      Then the model became so endearing (having set sales records) that they continued its production for a year after its (far better, but arguably more conservative) replacmemt arrived. It had its issues, such as crash performance, Titon engine teething, and the unfortunate V-6, but it was incredibly successful and I still see those trucks in use daily.

      • 0 avatar

        No the T6 was designed to be sold in the US, though it wasn’t going to be a Ranger nor replace the Ranger, it was going to slot between the Ranger and F150 as the F100.

        The fact was less than full size truck sales were dropping and it didn’t make good financial sense to tool up for a version in a segment that was rapidly shrinking, and they felt that it would canabalize F150 sales too much.

        The Canyado twins are not that successful. Sure they sell a fair number but just as Ford predicted with the F100 they are at the expense of full size sales. When Ram sells more than Silverado there is a problem.

        Hopefully the Ranger is not as bad of a deal for Ford as the Canyado is for GM.

    • 0 avatar

      Volvo, Jaguar and Land Rover were all looking around for a new ” master” that would allow them more freedom and funding. There was a lot of rejoicing when they broke up with Ford..Ford were as not as bad as British Leyland as far as Jaguar / Land Rover were concerned, but they were almost as incompetent

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        Uh, no. Ford sold Volvo, and JLR to raise to raise badly needed cash. A company that is OWNED buy another company does not seek another “master” unless the company who owns that company sells it. i.e. Ford selling Volvo or JLR. As far as Ford being “almost as incompetent” as BL; show us some proof.

      • 0 avatar

        Err…. the current Volvo and JLR products are all either developed under Ford or heavily derived from Ford developments.

        • 0 avatar

          Yeah, lets see what Chinese “masters” will come up with. And regarding JRL and Volvo not funded sufficiently by Ford – it is BS. IMO Ford wasted 10s of billions $$ too much on JLR and Volvo which would better be spent on Lincoln and Ford. Why Ford would need AM, JLR and Volvo if it was not capable to handle even Mercury and Lincoln?

  • avatar

    As a stockholder, I hope there aren’t any rash decisions. As a Ford owner, I haven’t heard from Ford since I bought my vehicle 19 months ago. So Hackett, how about polling your customers to find out what they’d like? You have my address, use it!

    • 0 avatar

      Just wait until you get “YOUR WARRANTY IS ABOUT TO EXPIRE! FINAL NOTICE!” spam, not from Ford, but from jackass companies that get your information from jackass dealers or vehicle registration information,

      And, it will be the final notice. Until you open your mailbox next week.

  • avatar

    Is anyone besides me having issues with this website crashing often?

  • avatar

    Yes. It is one the most poorly designed websites I experienced so far.

  • avatar

    What was issue with Fields again? Ford was making poor decisions upon poor decisions since it was founded by Henry Ford. And always some hero turned up to save company, literally. Right now it is not that case, there is something else going on. I suggest Bill to hire Musk as a CEO. Stock price will quadruple.

    • 0 avatar

      Just about every automaker I’ve read up on for it’s history, save maybe Toyota (and excluding Scion), is a history of horrible decisions and one wonders how such a big company made it. This isn’t just back to the old days, but modern times. Heck, most of the best articles on TTAC are based on this. Ford actually has been one of the more conservative of the big three, often to it’s own hurt, such as we’re seeing now. You could make a long list of conservative Ford decisions. The rash decisions seem short to my memory.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Obsolescence has its rewards. Purchasers appreciated the Ranger’s cheap as chips pricing. Ford turned a risk-free profit. Its replacement will be a long time achieving similar success.

    • 0 avatar

      Only the “cheap as chips” pricing really wasn’t when compared to the cash on the hood on the F-150. For not “that” much more than you’d pay for the little, ancient (don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the little Ranger) Ranger, folks could step up to a fullsize F-150. Unfortunately, in America bigger is better (or so it seems). What we now call “midsize” isn’t terribly much smaller than the fullsize.

      Ironic in that there are times I actually kind of miss our 2003 Dakota. Not the fanciest or most refined, but it fit the bill.

    • 0 avatar

      the problem is that most of those purchasers were buying huge whacks of Rangers all at once, all white regular cab 4-cylinders with crank windows and no carpet, destined to shortly have “Orkin” or “NAPA” decals on the doors.

      even with as old as the Ranger was (and that the tooling had been paid for during the Clinton administration) there was still not much profit in them.

  • avatar

    If you’re moving too slowly, your escape point is that you’re not allowing people to do their jobs. 99 times out of 100 this arises from management not trusting lower levels to have done their jobs correctly.

    A manager that trusts their people won’t send them back to re-examine specs (written by dedicated experts), redo calculations, re-engineer parts, etc. A manager that trusts their people will allow their people to move fast and do their job to solve issues.

    I think the issue here is pretty clear.

  • avatar

    The flip side of making such decisions more quickly is the need to understand and tolerate, even encourage, the inevitable errors that will result.

    • 0 avatar

      You’re assuming the extended decision-making process prevents or reduces errors. I wouldn’t make that assumption.

      In a large bureaucracy, verious departments serve as fiefdoms where a specific way of doing business is ingrained. It may well be that those fiefdoms are dragging their feet until they get their way, which may not be the best way to get the job done.

      An example of that is military procurement when the new AR15-based rifle was chosen. A department steeped in the traditions of the bolt action rifle insisted on additions that did nothing for performance but added weight, and in a couple cases interfered with future enhancements (a traditional pop-up sight where the scope rail was intended).

      No doubt a bureacracy at Ford has its own way of doing things in many areas, getting in the way of, or trying to change advanced design work, and foot-dragging in the approval process until they get their way.

  • avatar

    Can I have a new excursion now? With a ten speed and a 6.2? Maybe even the power stroke?

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