Congratulations, Ford!!

As you all know by now, Ford has posted its best 3rd quarter net income in 20 years and gained 1.3 percentage points of North American market share, putting it ahead of Toyota for the year.

A couple of observations:

  • The investment rating services — those folks you told you that mortgage-backed securities were AAA, recall? — still penalize Ford for not declaring bankruptcy and stiffing its creditors, shareholders and employees
  • “Restructuring” still gets the credit.  Look at this from CNN: That success is due in large part to Mulally’s restructuring of the company that resulted in strong sales and reduced costs in North America.

“Restructuring” does not “result in strong sales.”  It may lower costs, but it does not produce products that customers want to buy.  If all you want to do is lower costs, eliminate R&D while you file for Chapter 11.

It may be a while before we understand the bases for Ford’s success, assuming that it is real success, that Ford continues to make money and gain market share.  But my preliminary assessment is that Alan Mullaly and the folks at Ford understand the Toyota Way better than the current crowd at Toyota.

For example, consider this from the Wall St. J.:

Ford’s mid-size, front-wheel-drive Fusion sedan is now the top-ranked model in Consumer Reports’ “family cars” segment—better than the Toyota Camry, the Honda Accord, the Nissan Altima and the Hyundai Sonata. Overall, Ford is now No. 1 among the Detroit brands.

Improving quality; containing costs — starting to sound like the Toyota Way to me.

Which raises an interesting question:  Look at the 14 elements of the Toyota Way, as revealed by Jeffrey Liker and think about Toyota’s current dilemma — has Mulally found something missing?

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