If you want to know how Mark Fields will carry out Ford Motor Co.'s financial turnaround, take a peek at his Mazda playbook.
Monday, Jan. 23, Fields is expected to announce plans to shut down assembly plants, eliminate tens of thousands of jobs and trim senior management.
All of that is necessary, but insufficient.
Fields, who was named Ford's president of the Americas in October, must generate a sense of urgency among company employees. And he must convince both employees and the public that Ford has exciting future products in store.
At this critical moment, Fields is adopting the tactics he used to sell the Millennium Plan, Mazda's five-year turnaround program.
During his three-year stint at Mazda, Fields adopted the Japanese strategy of nemawashi. It's a term that means "to dig around the roots," as a gardener might prepare a bonsai tree before transplanting it. In Japan, it means doing the hard work of building consensus within a company.
After he was named president of Mazda Motor Corp. in 2000, Fields held a series of meetings with union leaders, employees, executives and company directors to explain the turnaround strategy.
Now Fields is transplanting those tactics to Ford. He will hold meetings with the company's various stakeholders, and he will try to win their support for the cost-cutting to come.
"My job is to communicate, communicate, communicate, communicate," Fields told me during an interview last week. By the way, that's practically a word-for-word reprise of the Mazda strategy he spelled out four years ago in an interview with Staff Reporter James B. Treece.