Who You Got? Mulally or Nardelli?

Posted 08.07.2007


The appointment of Bob Nardelli as CEO of the restructuring Chrysler Corporation sets up an interesting study in contrasts.  As demonstrated in his tenure at Home Depot, Nardelli relies heavily on a commanding style in driving change.  By contrast, Alan Mulally, the new CEO of Ford, is known for coaching his managers to take new approaches to get different results.  As an example, check out this excerpt from a recent interview Mulally did with the Wall Street Journal:


One of the first meetings we had, I asked how it’s going, and most of it was all green and a little yellow. I said, "Hey, we lost like $12 billion, it can’t all be green."

The next week, [Ford Executive Vice President] Mark Fields was launching the Edge [Ford’s new small sport-utility vehicle] up at Oakville [Ontario]. He had a technical issue, so he chose not to deliver the car because we wanted to start off with the highest quality. In the weekly review, he presents the chart with all the launches. It has all the greens, yellows and this one big red box. The place goes silent.

I started to clap. I said, "Mark, that is great visibility and I am glad you understand that. Is there any help you need? Other resources you could get from technical or product development?"

So, within a couple weeks it went from red to yellow to green and we had a great launch. It’s not a warm and fuzzy thing, it’s relentless focus on your area.

So, in betting on the long term health of either Ford or Chrysler, my bias is probably clear.  But what do you think and why?