I learned why Alan Mulally is such a unique CEO when I heard him speak last October. He changed the way I run my business and inspired me to create our MVP Plan.
What makes him unique
First off, Mulally is responsible for saving the Ford Motor Company. When Ford was at its lowest point (losing 17 Billion in 2006) he led the company back to profitability. This included weathering the 2008 financial meltdown, that bankrupted GM and Chrysler, without taking any government assistance.
Another is his unique style. Mulally describes his leadership as service and combines this with infectious optimism and gracious humility – traits that let him unify a fractious company around a shared mission. He says his leadership values are based on snippets of wisdom his mother ingrained in him such as “It is nice to be important, but more important to be nice.” And “The purpose of life is to love and be loved.” This is not typical thinking from a corporate titan. However, it struck me that his message of collaborative teamwork is the way forward not only for manufacturing but also for our construction industry.
The most powerful lesson for me was Mulally’s integrated operational plan that he summed up on a single slide titled: ‘One Ford: one team, one plan, one goal’. It laid out the way Mulally united a complex global corporate culture around a single compelling vision and tied that directly to an operational plan that was tracked with detailed metrics.
Mulally famously carried this out at a weekly Business Plan Review meeting (BPR), which he established to track the progress of the One Ford plan with his 16 senior managers. At the Thursday meetings, each director was responsible for reporting on a host of green/amber/red colour coded metrics that tracked their department’s progress against the plan. The focus and accountability that the BPR ultimately created are credited with Ford’s turn around.
How he changed my company
Understanding this simple, powerful system connected deeply with me. We started building and tweaking our own Business Plan and identifying the right metrics to drive the results we’re looking for. I call the result our ‘Most Valued Partner Plan’ because our Mission is to be just that for our clients – their most valued partner.
Internally we now track 37 metrics under the four categories that are critical to our customers’ success:
- Competent People
- Obvious Value
- Flawless Execution
- Excellent Quality
I’m already noticing that seeing the data weekly is causing us to uncover longstanding problems and motivating the team to cooperate on eliminating them.
Starting next week, we’ll be surveying our customers and our staff and integrating their ratings of our performance into our dashboard. This data will further confirm that we’re ‘on plan’ and show us where to focus our efforts.
These are exciting times and I’m grateful to Mr Mulally for showing me the path.
Learn more about Mulally’s turnaround in this book by Bryce Hoffman .