American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company

American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company

Posted by jack_miller | Published 6 months ago

With 750 ratings

By: Bryce G. Hoffman, Pete Larkin, et al.

Purchased At: $18.00

At the end of 2008, Ford Motor Company was just months away from running out of cash. With the auto industry careening toward ruin, Congress offered all three Detroit automakers a bailout. General Motors and Chrysler grabbed the taxpayer lifeline, but Ford decided to save itself. Under the leadership of charismatic CEO Alan Mulally, Ford had already put together a bold plan to unify its divided global operations, transform its lackluster product lineup, and overcome a dys­functional culture of infighting, backstabbing, and excuses. It was an extraordinary risk, but it was the only way the Ford family - America's last great industrial dynasty - could hold on to their company.

Mulally and his team pulled off one of the great­est comebacks in business history. As the rest of Detroit collapsed, Ford went from the brink of bankruptcy to being the most profitable automaker in the world. American Icon is the compelling, behind-the-scenes account of that epic turnaround. On the verge of collapse, Ford went outside the auto industry and recruited Mulally - the man who had already saved Boeing from the deathblow of 9/11 - to lead a sweeping restructuring of a company that had been unable to overcome decades of mismanagement and denial.

Mulally applied the principles he developed at Boeing to streamline Ford's inefficient operations, force its fractious executives to work together as a team, and spark a product renaissance in Dearborn. He also convinced the United Auto Workers to join his fight for the soul of American manufacturing.

Bryce Hoffman reveals the untold story of the covert meetings with UAW leaders that led to a game-changing contract, Bill Ford's battle to hold the Ford family together when many were ready to cash in their stock and write off the company, and the secret alliance with Toyota and Honda that helped prop up the Amer­ican automotive supply base. In one of the great management narratives of our time, Hoffman puts the reader inside the boardroom as Mulally uses his celebrated Business Plan Review meet­ings to drive change and force Ford to deal with the painful realities of the American auto industry.

Hoffman was granted unprecedented access to Ford's top executives and top-secret company documents. He spent countless hours with Alan Mulally, Bill Ford, the Ford family, former executives, labor leaders, and company directors. In the best-selling tradition of Too Big to Fail and The Big Short, American Icon is narrative nonfiction at its vivid and colorful best.

In 2006, Ford brought in Alan Mulally to help rescue Ford Motor Company from itself. Mulally’s first task was to change Ford’s management style from “every man for himself” to “every man for Ford”. Ford management’s transition from hiding problems (so you didn’t get fired) to acknowledging problems (so you could fix them) could only happen as the braver managers took the leap of faith that Mulally wouldn’t fire them for admitting the serious problems that existed within their own areas of responsibility. Reading about that process was interesting on its own; but, as I was reading, I was also thinking “these guys don’t yet know that the Great Recession is coming”. That event took the drama of Ford’s attempts to survive its past missteps to a whole new level. Wonderful, interesting and exciting book about Alan Mulally, Ford Motor Company, the auto industry and corporate America.

- augustine_richardson

Author Bryce Hoffman details the incredible American comeback story of Ford Motor Company. His focus is largely on Alan Mulally, whom Ford hired away from Boeing in September 2006 to take over as their New CEO. Hoffman chronicles the events leading to Bill Ford's decision to step down as CEO and go outside the company and the auto industry to hire Mulally.

The author describes the changes Mulally made to Ford's corporate culture as well as the approach he took to changing the mentality and necessity to work together for the survival and future of the company. Hoffman narrates the risks the company had to take to be able to keep it running. I especially relished the narrative of the three auto industry CROw's appearance before the Congressional and Senate hearings on the fall of 2008, when General Motors and Chrysler were asking for a federal bailout to keep those two automakers alive.

Hoffman takes the reader into 2011 at a time when Ford was back in the black and on much stronger ground. He gives Mulally much of the credit for this amazing turnaround, but also praised Bill Ford and the other heirs of Henry Ford. Hoffman gives credit to many others within Ford for their courage and contributions to the comeback. This was the most interesting and enlightening books I've read about the American auto industry.

- sonny_kim

I have to confess that this book was a complete stunner. I purchased it hoping to get a decent idea of what Ford went through during the economic crisis of 2006-2009, but this book proved to be a detailed, engrossing story that I could barely put down. Anyone who follows the news is well aware of the debacle that was the US auto industry in 2007, but Hoffman provides such depth in describing the issues facing the industry and the corporate in-fighting that it almost reads like fiction.

You are instantly endeared to Bill Ford as a man that can put aside his own ego for the good of the company he loves, and you root for Alan Mullaly throughout the book even though we already know Ford made it through to the other side. His belief in his system and his ability to completely change the corporate culture of a multi-national company are truly inspiring.

Outside the story itself, there are all sorts of interesting factoids to be found such as how the common stock was set up to ensure the Ford family maintained voting rights, and how neither Chrysler or General Motors would've survived if President Obama had stuck to President Bush's original requirements. The book delivers on so many different levels. I highly recommend to anyone with an interest in business or just an interest in a great story.

- francis_stewart

Bryce Hoffman’s American Icon gave me a better understanding of what went wrong in the automotive industry in ‘08 through ‘10. The danger had gotten very serious here in Southern California when a well regarded dealer lost his Chevrolet affiliation and committed suicide. Ford common stock shares had fallen to the $2 per share price, which I thought was absurd. I bought the stock then because it would not have been a bigger loss than a series of bad poker hands (not that I’m much of a gambler.) But, what I didn’t know about was that the Ford family were deadly serious about getting Ford back on track. They hired Allen Mulally and he made the difference. Ford had lost its focus like GM and Chrysler: too many brand names, too many overseas operations, and too much neglect of the home market. Mulally brought focus back on what Ford needed to do to survive. So Ford remained solvent and survived. Its shareholders did not lose their investments in bankruptcy

- marleigh_jimenez

Growing up in the Detroit area I've seen Ford both at their best and their worst. Their incredible transformation over the last decade was nothing short of incredible. This reads more like an intrigue novel than a history lesson and really holds your attention. This, combined with Once Upon a Car and Taken for a Drive are some of the best auto industry books I've ever read.

- solomon_kim

This book tells the story of ford turn around from one of the failing big three to one of the best car makers in the world.

It tells the story of Alan Mullay (the man credited with saving plane maker boeing after 9/11) taking the regins of ford over when Bill Ford step aside knowing that he did not have the ability to deliver the nessarily changes at ford, dealing with entrenched coperate culture of detroit that was focused more on infighting and ego between excutives and the american auto unions and enitlement culture that prevailed at all levels in detriot. A failure to use anyaltical type managment and assocaited lack of accountability.

Allan Mullay intergrated ford which had been running regionally with almost completly different model ranges europe america and asia at times.

This book also tells the story of how ford being a family controlled company with voteing preferntuial voting shares can have a long term vison ande common cause that may be harder for other buiness.

this is not just another buiness tale this is also a great read that leaves a postive feeling when read and restore faith in a can do attitude that has been so lacking in many coperations of late.

- aitana_bennet

I was amazed, I just could not put this book down. I must admit to being a Ford fan which helps with what one would think would be a boring subject (saving Ford) but the cover says it reads like a thriller, which I more or less ignored, but it does. I would recommend this to any aspiring director or manager of any company. I don't know how Allan Mullally managed to sleep at night.
The detail is as amazing as it is informative I definitely would recommend this book to any one who thinks they have responsibilities
at work.

- charli_peterson

A very good read, I didn't think a book about business could be so hard to put down! Mr Hoffman has not sacrificed balance or a pursuit of accuracy for the sake of making the story even more interesting. (At least this is my opinion from my perspective being at the remote fringe of senior management at Ford during this period). Fortunately, the story is strong enough by itself and it is well researched. It gives a fair acount of the important and influential roles played by head of Ford Credit, Mike Bannister, and CFO, Lewis Booth, and gives due credit to Don Leclair for the crucial early financing actions.

- porter_ross

this book is amazing. the first chapter is boring because it talks about the history of ford but once they start talking about what changes had to be made to save ford it becomes an amazing story full of James Bond and Mission Impossible type of stuff. This book/audio book should be used in EVERY school and college as it helps you to understand how to prevent trouble and save a billion dollar company. It also helps you to learn how to work with others in a organisation and how a person can develop their own skills. The fights and arguments that occurred within Ford are just amazing for example union workers were getting paid even when there was no work available and Ford could not do anything to stop it.

- iliana_rodriguez

More readable and better written than most books of this genre. A good description and explanation of the recent past in the North American car industry from the perspective of the Ford Motor Company. Bryce has had access to the people involved and has used these sources to write an excellent account of the period.

If I have a problem with this book, then it's the fact that the story isn't over. Surely the time for this book is when Mulally retires, but he's likely to be in charge at Ford for some years to come and although their North American operation has a full range of cars and trucks that it can sell profitably, the current European situation is dire.

- marilyn_ramirez

Very interesting and clearly incredibly well-researched. It's a fascinating story of a company that we've all heard of... and its highs and lows. Irrespective of whether you're interested in the automotive industry, it's a great 'business book' and I learned a lot.

- axl_thomas

An incredible study in leadership and how an impossible situation can eventually be turned into success. This is one of the best leadership/management books I have ever read because the case itself is impressive, the characters are human, and the writing style is fast-paced. It reads more like a business soap opera than a dry case study. Hugely enjoyable and inspiring too.

- willa_turner

This book is a great insight into the way a very clever manager transforms a company many lesser people would have given up on. It also illustrates the incredible job the Chairman Bill Ford did in getting Mulally to join his quest to save the company. They both deserve immense credit for what they were able to achieve.

This book shows that it is possible to transform industrial companies on a global scale if you have, vision, courage and of course, the most import thing... A plan everyone can understand!


- giancarlo_alvarez

Really insightful.

- lennon_gutierrez

Its a bit of a PR job for Alan Mulally, but its a well-researched book and gives a thorough analysis of the story of Mulally's time at Ford

- everly_brooks

An interesting account but, like most similar publications, doesn't always coincide with recollections of the events.

- alden_scott

A very well written insight into the workings of Ford Motor Company and the attitudes and behaviour of its leadership. The writing style is highly engaging - leaving the reader feeling as though they were in those meetings!

- shane_collins

Inspiring, compelling and relevant. Reads almost like a piece of fiction as you follow Mullay’s journey in saving Ford.

- jessica_mitchell

This book is more like a thriller than a business story. Great insight and learnings. Highly recommend for anyone in the business world.

- mackenzie_foster

Fascinating to read about the family and management dynamics at Ford

- camille_gomez

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