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Mulally Will Change Ford, But Has He Arrived Too Late?


The United Auto Workers has been bleeding Ford (F) dry the past 40 years ("The new heat on Ford," News & Insights, June 4). Ford and other U.S. carmakers just lay back and took the path of least resistance, letting the American consumer pay both in high prices and poor quality. I got tired of it and really enjoy my Toyota (TM) 4Runner.

John Lowe Jr.

Cornelia, Ga.

I wish Alan Mulally well in his quest to unbind Ford's culture. It will take more than products to fix the company. Customer service and satisfaction will play a role as well. Over the past 20 years, I have owned or leased a collection of more than a dozen products from Ford and its various divisions, but no more. I just turned in a Lincoln and a Mercury, paying off their leases early and walking across the street to buy my next vehicles from a different manufacturer.

It is all because of a problem I had with one of those cars. It needed to be towed to a dealer and have a mechanical problem resolved. Because I was one day out of warranty—one day—I was told that my problem was no longer Ford's and that I would have to pay for the tow and the repair. After hours on the phone with their poorly named Customer Relationship Center and an extremely frustrating exchange of e-mails, I finally got them to agree to reimburse me for the towing, but that was as far as they would go.

I am now driving a vehicle from another manufacturer. That dealer corresponds regularly with me to check my level of satisfaction, jumps to attention when something needs to be fixed, and works aggressively to win my business. And by the way, more than two months later, I am still waiting for the reimbursement check from Ford.

Mr. Mulally, if you want to know why you can't hold on to your customers, give me a call. I'm in the phonebook.

David Cohen

San Jose, Calif.

"The balkanized mess" that is now Ford surely did not occur by accident or overnight. I wonder how many key management decisions and critical staff decisions were made by Ford based on recommendations from management consultants.

Geoffrey D. Batrouney

Executive Vice-President

Estee Marketing Group Inc.

New Rochelle, N.Y.

Calling Alan Mulally an "ex-engineer" is like calling Bill Clinton an ex-President. Once you are an engineer you are always an engineer. Engineers know how to think and to make things happen. Ford is most fortunate to have a real engineer in charge as CEO and one who has demonstrated leadership and turnaround skills.

Ed T. Barron

Washington

Ford is a grand old American corporation that's building some excellent products right now. If Mr. Mulally succeeds in blowing up its "deeply ingrained hierarchical culture," certainly an anachronism in today's brutally competitive automobile industry, it will become a stronger and more innovative company worldwide.

Robert E. Luce

Riverside, Conn.

Writer David Kiley says "after...1961, Henry Ford II gradually assumed a bigger role in management." In fact, Henry II assumed the biggest role in management in September, 1945, when he became president.

On May 11, 1946, he completed his recruitment of Ernest R. Breech to become Ford's executive vice-president and chief operating officer—and Henry II's mentor. Ignoring Breech's critical role in the postwar "rebirth" of Ford, even in passing, was a serious slip.

Peter Whittier

Dade City, Fla.

As an Mba admissions coach based in Monterrey, Mexico, I can attest that ethical MBA advisers do not write applications for clients (IT'S ALMOST LIKE...admitting an impostor," B-Schools, June 4). They coach them on personal salesmanship, a skill students need well beyond business school and one not usually taught in Latin American universities.

Garza GarcÍA

Nuevo León, Mexico

Michael Mandel's commentary, "Globalization vs. immigration reform" (News & Insights, June 4), ignores the fact that the vast majority of our illegal immigrants have very little in the way of education and skills, with at least half not having graduated from high school. To the extent that there are public policy reasons for immigration, it would be of greater benefit to existing American citizens to select more educated and skilled immigrants as needed. On a per capita basis, the more educated and skilled would add much more to the economic output of the country, pay much more in taxes, and use a much smaller amount of public services than our typical illegal immigrants.

If we do not stop them, our poor illegal immigrants with limited education and all of their attendant costs can only greatly increase in number, so powerful are the incentives to come here. It is contradictory and nonsensical policy to make great and very costly efforts to eradicate poverty in this country and import much more poverty at the same time.

Peter A. Schulkin

Cambria, Calif.

Could Mandel Explain why, in Japan, foreign workers are only 0.3% of the population of the country, and tell us whether he has read what was written in BusinessWeek in 1990 ("Why they call Japan `Robot Paradise,'" Science & Technology, Aug. 20, 1990): "Labor shortages helped spur Japan's robo-mania. In the 1980s, Tokyo refused to let immigrants in to take up the slack, and Japan's giant builders turned to robot R&D. 'The labor shortage propelled these companies to the forefront of field robotics,' says Shigeaki Yanai, research manager at the Japan Robot Assn.

"Now, Japanese construction sites are a showcase of automation that U.S. contractors only dream of."

How does it come about that Japan has a free flow of goods and capital without a free flow of labor?

Charles Carmagnol

Nice, France

I think the real issue for immigration reform is rule of law not globalization. Bernie Ebbers and illegal immigrants have something in common: they don't obey the law. Now some people want to change the law so the illegal immigrants are legal. Should we have changed GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles) so Bernie Ebbers was legal?

Mandel also mentions IBM (IBM) as a great example of globalization, which it is. the question i have is: "How many illegal immigrants does IBM employ?"

William Thayer

San Diego

When should a leader pass blame? Jack and Suzy Welch (The Welch Way, June 4) correctly point out that leaders own all outcomes, good and bad. But then they allow leaders one exception. Leaders, it seems, get a pass when they can blame rogue employees. I'm sorry. Rogue employees must be held accountable, but the most effective leaders share the credit and hoard the blame. The first instinct of the best leaders is to fix the problem rather than to fix the blame. Letting go of blaming behaviors is a basic business decency that doesn't cost an executive a dime yet rewards the leader with followers who are willing to take risks and who are a little less reluctant to own up to those mistakes when they happen. In such ways, decencies build the corporate cultures we desire. Blaming gets leaders nowhere.

Steve Harrison

Chairman

Lee Hecht Harrison

Woodcliff Lake, N.J.


Steve Ballmer, Power Forward
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