When Alan Mullaly took over as CEO of Ford in 2006, the company was in serious trouble. So, one of his first moves was to institute weekly business plan reviews for the various businesses. The executives in-charge had to present their latest initiatives with a red/yellow/green status.
However, in his first few weeks, every status in every meeting was green.
This continued until he threw up his hands in frustration wondering aloud – “We are going to lose billions of dollars this year. Is there anything that’s not going well here?”
Finally, after weeks of prodding, one executive – Mark Fields, the Head of Operations – turned one slide red. This was a decision that would have lost his job under previous leadership.
When Mullaly saw the slide, he clapped, thanked him for the visibility, and asked everyone in the room if someone could help bring the initiative back on track. A valuable discussion followed (for a change).
Over time, other executives followed Marks’ lead and brought more colorful slides to these review. More valuable discussions followed. These discussions contributed to Ford’s turnaround in the subsequent years.
To change outcomes, we need to change behavior. And, to change behavior, we need to change the culture.
(H/T: Simon Sinek’s “The Infinite Game”)