It's something of a coincidence, but I've been in small-group interviews with Mark Fields, Ford's president for the Americas, twice in the past few weeks.
The mood said a lot about how Ford is doing these days. Both sessions were cordial and relaxed; cheerful even.
I couldn't help recalling an interview with Fields several years ago. Our questions then were about whether Ford's turnaround plan would take hold. There was cause for skepticism: Ford's financials looked grim.
I wouldn't say the mood was hostile, but it was certainly tense. Probably Fields would have preferred a nice, relaxing root canal.
In one of the recent sessions, he talked about Ford's strategic clarity under CEO Alan Mulally. Several times Fields repeated the phrase "Focus is a wonderful thing."
He might have added that profits and cash are pretty nice, too.