An interview with Ford Motor Company’s
The change imperative facing Ford Motor Company was massive: integrate 340,000 employees separated by fiercely independent fiefdoms spread across 200 countries. Synchronize all teams, divisions, and regions into one global entity. Instill in all employees the need to think and act as if they owned the whole company. Why? So that Ford can excel in the global economy, and satisfy increasingly demanding consumers. How did Ford create such “corporate DNA that drives how we do things everywhere”? How does it insure that every individual understands the why and how of Ford’s new direction? Surprisingly, by teaching. But not academically with consultants in classrooms. Rather, with in house leaders reaching out to every corner of the company with teachable points of view “documents written by people to explain their theories about competition and success.” Ford uses these all the time—in story-telling, in project planning, in teaching programs reaching over 55,000 people; and in e-mails to 100,000 employees.
The teachable point of view Noel Tichy, a consultant to Ford, thinks of the teachable point of view document as the “antidote to the ‘black box’ . . . that conceals the origins of good ideas and important insights.” Teachable points of view include: • Ideas beliefs a leader holds about what will make the company profitable • Values—personal values as well as values the leader uses to set business goals (for example, sharing knowledge across divisions) • Emotional energy—how to motivate people (for example, by explaining the competitive context of their work) • Edge—an individual’s distinctive thought processes for making tough calls (for example, how to make decisions about an unethical employee)
The power of teaching
This type of teaching makes leaders’ implicit knowledge explicit. It opens it up for questioning and refining. And it rapidly reaches thousands of people. Nasser...