Ford Hires a Chief Transition Officer

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy

Last month, we brought you news about Ford CEO Jim Farley lamenting to investors that his company was number one – in recalls. At the time, he refused to place all the blame at the convenient feet of the world’s supply chain, instead pledging some company overhauls – perhaps at the personnel level.

Enter one John Dion, a corporate boss who has apparently implemented so-called ‘lean systems’ at other large companies. His title? Chief Transition Officer.

According to the company, Dion will oversee the global deployment of methodologies and tools based on Lean manufacturing and related concepts, capabilities that are central to realizing the value-creation and growth potential of the company’s Ford+ plan. That’s a lot of PR word salad, but the upshot is the company seems intent on righting the ship in terms of quality and production consistency.

“Henry Ford was doing Lean manufacturing decades before anyone even defined the term,” Farley said. “High value and quality, continuous flow, rooting out waste,” he continued. “John’s an expert in all of the principles of Lean, and he and his team will provide our culture the urgency, guidance and support we need to reassert and raise Ford’s reputation for excellence, thrift and growth.”

Cars appear nowhere on Dion’s resumé, which could be very good or very bad. Past outsider hires in this industry have been a mixed bag at best. His most recent role was VP at a fabrication and specialty gas-control technology company; prior to that, he spent 24 years at a global science and technology company called Danaher. It was in that job he directed the application of kaizen-based Lean manufacturing. This is what he’s hired to do at Ford, reporting directly to Farley. 

An estimated 60 percent of Ford’s electric vehicle customers are said to be new to the brand, with Dearborn’s EV growth coming at about twice the rate of the all-electric segment in general. Work needs to be done in most corners of the enterprise, however, with EVs not immune to quality problems (see: F-150 Lightning battery flap) and some of their most popular gasoline-powered models failing to even come close to meeting demand (here’s lookin’ at you, Bronco).

Dion starts his new job on April 3.

[Image: Ford]

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Matthew Guy
Matthew Guy

Matthew buys, sells, fixes, & races cars. As a human index of auto & auction knowledge, he is fond of making money and offering loud opinions.

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2 of 16 comments
  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Mar 22, 2023

    His tenure will be commensurate with the authority he wields. There will be groups and individuals who don't like his suggestions:

    • 'no problems in my department'
    • 'that change costs money'
    • 'that change costs jobs'
    • 'we've used that supplier for years'
    • 'I'll miss my bonus objective if I do that'

    Ford needs to stop talking about Henry and the F-Series.

    Speaking of the F-Series, 26% of the F-150s within 200 miles of me are 2022 or older. Demand is waning.

    • EBFlex EBFlex on Mar 22, 2023

      How is that indicative that demand is waning?

  • 3SpeedAutomatic 3SpeedAutomatic on Mar 23, 2023

    Ford is near #1 in recalls in North America.

    Another numb-nut in the C-Suite is an attempt to avoid responsibility.

    Instead of spending money on another layer of mis-management, how about spending the money on the vehicles!!




  • Duke Woolworth Weight 4800# as I recall.
  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X '19 Nissan Frontier @78000 miles has been oil changes ( eng/ diffs/ tranny/ transfer). Still on original brakes and second set of tires.
  • ChristianWimmer I have a 2018 Mercedes A250 with almost 80,000 km on the clock and a vintage ‘89 Mercedes 500SL R129 with almost 300,000 km.The A250 has had zero issues but the yearly servicing costs are typically expensive from this brand - as expected. Basic yearly service costs around 400 Euros whereas a more comprehensive servicing with new brake pads, spark plugs plus TÜV etc. is in the 1000+ Euro region.The 500SL servicing costs were expensive when it was serviced at a Benz dealer, but they won’t touch this classic anymore. I have it serviced by a mechanic from another Benz dealership who also owns an R129 300SL-24 and he’ll do basic maintenance on it for a mere 150 Euros. I only drive the 500SL about 2000 km a year so running costs are low although the fuel costs are insane here. The 500SL has had two previous owners with full service history. It’s been a reliable car according to the records. The roof folding mechanism needs so adjusting and oiling from time to time but that’s normal.
  • Theflyersfan I wonder how many people recalled these after watching EuroCrash. There's someone one street over that has a similar yellow one of these, and you can tell he loves that car. It was just a tough sell - too expensive, way too heavy, zero passenger space, limited cargo bed, but for a chunk of the population, looked awesome. This was always meant to be a one and done car. Hopefully some are still running 20 years from now so we have a "remember when?" moment with them.
  • Lorenzo A friend bought one of these new. Six months later he traded it in for a Chrysler PT Cruiser. He already had a 1998 Corvette, so I thought he just wanted more passenger space. It turned out someone broke into the SSR and stole $1500 of tools, without even breaking the lock. He figured nobody breaks into a PT Cruiser, but he had a custom trunk lock installed.