The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

Posts Tagged ‘leadership

Ask the powerful five questions

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Like wealth of most kinds, power seems to make people smaller. Washington, D.C., (for example) is not known for its champions of selfless idealism.  Yet many of those same people came into politics with a hope of doing good.  I suspect it is a very hard place from which to keep focused on justice.

Tony Benn, Labour‘s second-longest serving member of parliament in the U.K., proposes five plain-spoken questions:

Those might raise a fuss, eh? (h/t Homeyra!)

Here’s another Benn thought-provoker:

If you talk about a global answer to a global crisis, you can’t just talk about the movement of capital, now we are told all the time we must not have protectionism, but the most powerful protectionism in the world is immigration policy. Capital can move anywhere in the world to boost its profits. But labor can’t move because of the immigration control. Now I am raising huge questions, I recognize that. But if it is legitimate for a big American company to go to Malaysia where the wag[es] are low and triple their profit, why shouldn’t a Malaysian looking for high [wages] just go to America?

Well?  Immigration as protectionism – now there’s a fresh insight!

Ford CEO’s foresight may save the company

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When’s the last time you read an inspiring story about a U.S. automaker?

Today’s New York Times has one.

Turns out that Ford’s CEO, Alan Mulally, saw a crisis coming back in 2006.   He led the company into sweeping—and, no doubt, highly controversial—transformation:

clipped from www.nytimes.com

On Nov. 29, 2006, the Ford Motor Company made a surprising pitch to the nation’s biggest banks. In a packed ballroom at a New York hotel, Ford’s chief executive, Alan R. Mulally, said he would mortgage all the company’s assets for billions of dollars in loans to finance an overhaul of the troubled automaker.[…]
Although the economy was healthy then, Mr. Mulally said the money would give Ford “a cushion to protect for a recession or other unexpected event.” […]
[T]he $23.6 billion in loans it received turned out to be Ford’s saving grace […]
Ford, because of the money it borrowed in the private sector nearly three years ago, is in far better shape than its two crosstown rivals. The loans have kept it independent, and on a course to survive the worst new-vehicle market in nearly 30 years. […]
“It was a defining moment for us,” Mr. Mulally said in an interview. “But they never would have been willing to lend us the money if we weren’t on a different path.”  Ford has accelerated along that path, pursuing a top-to-bottom transformation into smaller cars, fewer brands, and a leaner cost structure. […]
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Ford Motor Company

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Pretty courageous, seems to me. There’s lots more to the story – follow the link for many more intriguing details – but the upshot is that Ford today gets to say things like this:

“From Day One, we had no desire to access the government money,” […]

“Ninety-seven percent of the people know that Ford is not taking taxpayer money to create a viable company,” Mr. Mulally said. “This is America. This is about making products people want and being self sufficient.” […]

Think this CEO deserves a bonus?  He’s no saint, and he gets paid way too much money, and no one knows for sure yet if Ford can survive plunging car sales.

But at least he’s doing his job.

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