Now that we've heard about the Way Forward for Ford Motor Co., you have to wonder what the strategy is behind the plan and how the plan was revealed.
We've all known for months that Ford needs to close several North American factories as part of its Way Forward. After all, the automaker sold more than a million fewer units in the United States last year than it did five years ago.
Last August, Ford execs promised to reveal the company's latest turnaround strategy in the fourth quarter. In October, they said it would be January.
Maybe the plan was to let everybody get used to the idea of plant closings and layoffs so that it wouldn't seem like such a big deal. But waiting so long to reveal the plan gave the media reason to report and re-report on Ford's problems for months, including right through the Detroit auto show, when the product was supposed to shine.
Everywhere you looked or listened or watched the last week were stories about the coming layoffs and plant closings at Ford.
So tens of thousands of loyal Ford employees got ulcers worrying they might lose their jobs, and dozens of communities feared the worst.
Now we know Ford plans to close seven of its 21 North American assembly plants and seven of its 20 other manufacturing plants by 2012. Half of the closures will come by the end of 2008, but only five of those seven factories were named on Monday.
That means for anxious Ford employees there are still two more shoes to hit the ground in the next two years and seven more before this round of cutting is done in 2012. That means more sleepless nights for Ford employees.
Ford insists there is more to the Way Forward recovery plan than just plant closures and layoffs but that message got lost in the bad news. Ford execs Bill Ford and Mark Fields told of great product innovations to come but they didn't have enough specifics about how Ford will revamp its product portfolio.
Nor were there the specific financial metrics that Carlos Ghosn used when he charted the turnaround course for Nissan.
Everybody wanted to hear how the miracle was going to happen. But now that we've heard what details there are, the Way Forward doesn't seem much clearer.
You may e-mail Edward Lapham at [email protected]