Jac Nasser reshuffled job assignments at Ford Motor Co. two weeks ago, and company executives have 68 days (until the end of the year) to make the changes work. They will need every one.
Left unanswered in CEO Nasser's grand plan were many questions of turf control in marketing, manufacturing and product development.
For example, Ford has not determined exactly how it will create future products, such as the next-generation Ford Focus.
Under Ford 2000, Ford's small-car vehicle development center in Germany developed the current Ford Focus for several markets, including North America, using a global vehicle platform.
Now, Chris Theodore, vice president of North America Car, and Martin Leach, Europe's product development chief, will each be responsible for creating a next-generation Focus that satisfies local tastes.
Ford remains committed to using global platforms, said Jim Vella, Ford spokesman. And the vehicle centers will remain intact although Ford's stronger regional units - North America, South America, Europe and Asia Pacific - oversee product development for local markets.
The key issue: how to retain the cost-saving efficiencies gained through globalization while empowering nimbler regional units to focus on local customers. Nasser's answer: a company with both global and regional organizations, leaving many execs in marketing, manufacturing and product development reporting to two bosses.
For example, Gurminder Bedi, vice president for Ford brand trucks in North America, will report to Richard Parry-Jones, global product-development boss, and to Martin Inglis, vice president of Ford North America.
How the two groups of leaders will work together is being ironed out.
'The organization is still being developed,' Vella said. 'That is why it is not taking effect until Jan. 1. It gives us time to decide how it is all going to work.'
NEW ROLE FOR PARRY-JONES
In addition, the increased authority resting in regional product groups is reshaping the role of Parry-Jones, group vice president of product development and quality.
'Richard Parry-Jones will take a more strategic role in terms of the development of product around the world,' said David Murphy, vice president of human resources, in announcing the changes Oct. 15. 'The regional and brand organizations will have a more direct role.'
Ford Division takes on the role of dealer liaison, but the company has not detailed Ford Division's responsibilities. For example, it is unclear if the division will have a hand in marketing and advertising or if that job will rest solely within Ford North America, a new organization responsible for product-development and marketing of Ford brand cars and trucks.
'We're still in the midst of putting people in place,' said Al Giombetti, Ford group truck brand manager.
Ford dealers expect a clearer picture of what the changes mean after regularly scheduled meetings with company executives in November, said Jerry Reynolds, incoming chairman of the Ford Division National Dealer Council and owner of Prestige Ford in Garland, Texas.
'Jim O'Connor (Ford Division president) is still going to be the guy that the dealer body will talk to and work with,' Reynolds said. 'That is a huge relief for all of us.'
Mercury is joining the luxury brand group headed by Wolfgang Reitzle, former product development boss at BMW AG.
'We're happy Mercury is under the Premier group,' said Jack Straub, chairman of the Lincoln Mercury National Dealer Council. 'A lot of resources will be given to the Premier group in the future, and now Mercury is part of that.'
But company executives are studying whether to kill the Mercury brand, which suffers 'a lack of commonality between vehicles' such as the Grand Marquis and Cougar, said one well-placed insider.
The dilemma is that despite Mercury's identity crisis, the brand generates significant profits for the company, the insider added.
Reitzle, who joined Ford in March, now oversees Lincoln, Mercury, Volvo, Jaguar and Aston Martin globally.
One anecdote about Reitzle already is being held up within Ford as an example of things to come.
Company designers, marketers and dealers long have wanted the Lincoln Town Car to ride on 17-inch wheels and tires. But the Town Car has 16-inch wheels because the finance staff would not approve the larger size, according to a source familiar with the situation.
'Reitzle does not accept the typical finance and bureaucratic reasons for why we can't do things,' the source said. 'He took one look at the car and it was done.'
Staff Reporter Jean Halliday contributed to this report