DETROIT -- During his relatively short time as Ford Motor Co.'s CEO, Mark Fields oversaw record profitability, successfully transformed the company's flagship pickup and helped set the table for Ford's future in autonomous and electric vehicles.
But a lack of clarity about its evolving future, inability to inspire confidence in workers and indifference on Wall Street doomed the 56-year-old less than three years into his tenure. Ford top management spoke in glowing terms about Fields on Monday, but their assessment of where the company needs to improve was specific, implying where exactly Fields fell short.
"Should we sharpen our message? Absolutely," Executive Chairman Bill Ford told Automotive News. "To be able to sharpen your message, you need to have clarity of strategy and a clear sense of alignment behind that message."
Alan Mulally, CEO before Fields, came to Ford as an outsider who changed the company's toxic corporate culture. Ford called Jim Hackett a "cultural change agent" who can have a similar effect on the workforce and abolish a hierarchical mindset throughout the rank-and-file.
"We want people to come to work thinking they can have a great day here," Hackett said. "There's pockets of this that exist, but we're going to make it more emphatic."