Ford, mobility and keeping your focus
Ford CEO Mark Fields made some interesting remarks during his keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week.
What jumped at me from the reports I read was this quote:
“As a mobility company, we are aiming for innovation with a higher purpose.”
Yes, a car is mobile, but is Ford really a mobility company? Should it be?
It’s no secret that car companies are jamming more and more technology into their vehicles beyond simple hands-free cell phones. There are lane changing and collision avoidance sensors and systems that let cars act as wireless hot spots.
And Field was talking about technology in the context of cars, even autonomous vehicles, for the masses, but a car company CEO calling his company a “mobility company” gives me pause.
On one hand, I applaud his vision. Car manufacturers have to take advantage of emerging technologies to make vehicles safer, more efficient and more convenient. The need for cars to communicate with each other and the roads they travel on will be increasingly important.
But there is a need for some caution here, as well. Ford is car company first and foremost. That’s where it all starts and ends.
Calling yourself a mobility company risks giving the impression that you’ve lost focus, that you’re straying from your core. What exactly are your priorities?
That’s why Fields’ comment is worth paying attention to whether you are a car manufacturer or a government contractor.
Yes, embrace new technology and new business models. Reinvent yourself, by all means, but know your roots. Know what your strength is. That’s what you lead with.
Understand what your guiding principle is, and build from there.
I think back to my interview with retired American Systems Corp. CEO Bill Hoover. He used the president’s oath of office as a guiding principle for his company’s strategy. If what American Systems was doing supported the oath, then he knew they were on the right track.
I’m not sure calling a car manufacturer a mobility company passes that test.
Posted by Nick Wakeman on Jan 07, 2015 at 9:34 AM