The problem is that Carlos Ghosn did it first. He set the benchmark for saving a sinking automaker.
Last week, Ford Motor Co. announced the second restructuring since Bill Ford became CEO in 2001.
The first one didn't work, and the jury is still out on this one. There are too many unanswered questions, more questions after the press conference than before.
Ford is in crisis. General Motors is in crisis.
But when you hear executives from those companies talk, you might think it's business as usual. Combined, Ford and GM are talking about eliminating more than 50,000 jobs in North America. If that doesn't qualify as a crisis, nothing does.
Yet Ford mentioned only five specific plant closings that everyone already suspected, and it promised to close a lot more by 2012. You can imagine the morale in offices and plants from now until 2012.
Ford has to cut its overhead. In the United States, it has lost more than a million units of sales since the turn of the century. It can't afford to run such underutilized plants.
Everyone understands that and realizes that cuts will be extremely painful. But Ford also has to announce what this new restructuring plan is all about.
The time for generalities is long past.
When Carlos Ghosn announced his restructuring plan for Nissan in 1999, he announced all the closings. He announced a timeline and performance checks that enabled everyone to monitor the company's efforts.
Ford offered few benchmarks besides an unspecified North American automotive profit by 2008.
Ford is eliminating financial forecasts because, Ford executives say, they don't want to lose focus. Maybe they just don't want to have to live up to financial measurements.
Of course, their success depends only partially on how well they can cut costs.
If Ford and GM don't start building cars that people want to buy and building them in large quantities, they will have to do another restructuring in a few years and then another one after that.
It's time for those executives to set visible goals -- goals that can be measured. And if they can't meet their own goals, they should resign and let someone else try to rebuild their companies.