1.23.2006

I think I wrote a character like this in a pilot

At a meeting in early October at Ford Motor Co.'s big design-center showroom here, an employee asked Mark Fields, then fresh in his job as head of the company's North and South American auto operations, if workers should be worried about their pensions.

"Yes, yes, you should," Mr. Fields says he replied. "That's a great motivator."

For Ford workers, the idea that the family-controlled company, still commonly called "Ford's" by longtime employees, might not pay promised pensions is a shocking concept. "I decided this was a chance to get people moving; to get away from the 'this too shall pass' mindset we've had," Mr. Fields says.

As Ford this morning rolls out a sweeping restructuring plan, much attention will be paid to the plants that will be shuttered and the jobs that will be cut. But for Mr. Fields, the 44-year-old executive drafted by company Chairman and Chief Executive Officer William Clay Ford Jr. to lead the company's second big overhaul in four years, the central challenge at Ford is fixing the company's culture, which past and present employees describe with words like "toxic," "cautious," "cliquish," and "hierarchical."


(via WSJ; sub only, emph added). I mean, I don't doubt that the culture of Ford is "toxic" &c. But there's a little bit of a difference between "changing a toxic culture" and "not paying people the pensions you promised them because it's motivational."

And my pilot? It didn't get picked up, in part because the character who talked like this was felt to be too cartoony.

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