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The world of mobility is quickly evolving and Ford needs to move faster to adapt, Bill Ford, Ford’s executive chairman, said on a press call Monday.
Mark Fields stepped down as Ford CEO on Monday and was replaced by Jim Hackett, who was previously the chairman of Ford Smart Mobility. Before joining Ford, Hackett also served as the CEO of the office furniture company Steelcase.
“This is a time of unprecedented change,” Bill Ford said. “Time of great change requires a transformational leader and thankfully we have that in Jim.”
One of the key things Hackett is tasked with is changing the hierarchical culture at the company. Bill Ford said it’s critical that teams have the power to move fast and make decisions, and Hackett will take the lead in making sure teams feel empowered to execute quickly.
“The clock speed at which the world is moving and our competitors are working really requires us to make decisions at a faster pace,” Ford said. “I don’t think we missed any opportunities, per se, but I also know that if we are really going to win in this new world we have to empower the teams and we have to move fast and we have to trust our people to move fast.”
Under Hackett, Ford will also make a big push into mobility services.
The company has already announced some bold plans for its future business on the mobility front, including launching a level 4 autonomous vehicle for commercial use in 2021. But the company hasn’t been able to relay its message in a way that has found traction with Wall Street, Hackett said during the press call.
“I do think that the vision and our role in that future has to be better…I know that can be better and I know that we can build enthusiasm for Ford,” Hackett said.
“Anytime you are describing the future it’s ambiguous until you can prove it, but the way we are going to win the hearts and minds of everybody is to have great ideas that work. And Ford has put a decade into the AV development, and it’s really coming along and when we are ready to talk about it, we are going to be really clear about it.” Hackett said.
Despite strong profits in 2015 and 2016, Ford’s stock price is down about 40% since Fields became CEO in 2014. Meanwhile, Tesla, which makes less than 100,000 cars a year, has seen its stock price soar to more than $300 per share.
While Ford has been making investments in mobility services, autonomous technology, and the electrification of its vehicles, the board ultimately didn’t think the company was moving fast enough under Fields.
Hackett will face the same challenges Fields did in this regard, but he said during the call that his biggest challenge will be bringing Ford’s employees together in a way that unites them under one vision.
“The biggest challenge I had there (Steelcase) and that I will have here is to have everybody see the future, to see their opportunity,” he said.
“And secondly, it’s our right to win there. We don’t have to cede that to anybody, Tesla, any of them. It’s our right to win there, and so I love that challenge because I know how to do that,” Hackett said.