Mark Fields was fond of saying that Ford Motor Company needed to keep “one foot in the present and one foot in the future”. Mr Fields lost his footing entirely this week and was fired as Ford’s chief executive.
马克?菲尔茨(Mark Fields)喜欢说，福特汽车公司(Ford Motor Company)必须“一只脚踩在现在，另一只脚迈向未来”。如今他完全失去了立足点，因为他被解除了福特首席执行官一职。
The man chosen to take his place is Jim Hackett, former chief executive of Steelcase, the Midwestern office furniture company one 50th of the size of Ford by revenues. Mr Hackett made his name by remodelling Steelcase, then temporarily heading the University of Michigan’s ailing athletics programme and deftly recruiting a star coach for the Wolverines football team.
被选中接替他职位的是吉姆?哈克特(Jim Hackett)。哈克特曾担任美国中西部办公家具公司Steelcase的首席执行官，后者收入仅为福特的50分之一。哈克特因重组Steelcase出名，接着他曾短暂担任密歇根大学(University of Michigan)陷入困境的体育项目的负责人，并巧妙地为密歇根大学狼獾足球队(Wolverines)聘请到了一位明星教练。
So, Mr Hackett is big in Michigan. Whether his talents are sufficient to match Henry Ford’s self-confident declaration in 1925 that his eponymous company was “large in scope as well as great in purpose”, having “dared to try out the untried with conspicuous success”, is another matter.
The first hurdle is working under Bill Ford, scion of the family and chairman of Ford, which has been through four leaders in 16 years. It dismissed Jacques Nasser in 2001 and then Mr Ford stepped down as chief executive in 2006 to make way for Alan Mulally, who produced “One Ford” from its rivalrous operating divisions.
第一个障碍是在福特家族成员、福特公司董事长比尔?福特(Bill Ford)手下工作。福特公司在16年里轮换了4位掌舵人。2001年雅克?纳赛尔(Jacques Nasser)被免职，2006年比尔?福特卸任首席执行官，让位给艾伦?穆拉利(Alan Mulally)，后者针对各部门竞争激烈的状况提出了“一个福特”(One Ford)战略。
Mr Fields, a 28-year veteran of Ford’s hierarchical and often inward-looking culture, took over in 2014 and has lasted three years — about the cycle time to design, build and sell a new model of car. He tried to be efficient in running Ford’s business and visionary about new technology, but ended up confusing and alienating shareholders.
Mr Hackett may do better but I have a sinking feeling that the essential problem is not Fields but Ford. This is partly because Mr Ford, facing a global, multi-dimensional challenge to the business models of US carmakers, turned to a guy from Grand Rapids. But it is also because the task is extremely tough, and may be impossible.
It is a severe version of the difficulty facing the heads of many big companies. Growth in the industry they know is under pressure from smaller rivals and new competitors. Meanwhile, they face disruption from new technology that could transform how products and services are designed and delivered, and marginalise them.
The Detroit big three of General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler have been steadily squeezed in their home market by Asian rivals — Ford’s US market share has halved since 1970 to 15 per cent. It is only half that again globally, and GM reacted in March by pulling out of Europe, selling its Opel and Vauxhall operations to PSA Group.
底特律三大汽车制造商——通用汽车(General Motors)、福特和菲亚特克莱斯勒(Fiat Chrysler)在本国市场不断受到亚洲竞争对手的挤压。与1970年相比，福特在美国的市场占有率已下滑一半，至15%。在全球的市场占有率仅为这个数字的一半。今年3月，通用汽车做出反应，撤出欧洲，把欧宝(Opel)和沃克斯豪尔(Vauxhall)业务出售给标致雪铁龙集团(PSA Group)。
This would be enough to address in itself, but the carmakers simultaneously face waves of disruption from new technology, including electric cars made by rivals including Tesla, driverless cars developed by Silicon Valley giants such as Alphabet, and on-demand mobility services from Uber and others.
Manufacturers used to dominate the industry’s profit pool, with parts suppliers and dealers under their purview. That is under threat: suppliers of electronics and software may take most of the value, reducing the big three to outsourced assemblers.
Bain & Company, the management consultancy, has a model for what it calls the firm of the future — a company facing upheaval. It argues that the leaders of those companies must keep “engine one”, the traditional core business, operating smoothly. At the same time, they must free capital to invest in “engine two”, the growth area.
管理咨询公司贝恩咨询(Bain & Company)设想了其所称的未来的公司——面对剧变的公司。贝恩咨询声称，这些企业的领导人必须确保传统核心业务这个“一号引擎”平稳运转。同时，他们必须能拿出资金，投资于增长领域的“二号引擎”。
Mr Fields, with his talk of planting Ford’s feet in the present and future, gave the impression of having read the book without knowing how to make it work in practice. He looked as if he was being pulled in all directions, from bolstering Ford’s profitable F-150 pick-up truck to launching a rival to GM’s Chevrolet Bolt electric car.
Mr Ford duly introduced Mr Hackett on Monday by saying, “he is not just a futurist, he is a very good operational executive” and the new chief executive pledged to simplify. “If you have a clear view of the future, you can execute rapidly against that view.”
Ford patently needs to make some hard choices, as GM has done by pulling out of Europe and India. It is no longer feasible for one company to fight on every front at once. “To be a global player everywhere while trying to invest in the future does not make sense,” says Paul Ingrassia of the Revs Institute in Florida, an author of books about the Detroit carmakers.
福特显然需要做出艰难的选择——正如通用汽车选择退出欧洲和印度那样。一家企业在所有阵线同时发起冲锋不再可行。佛罗里达Revs Institute的保罗?英格拉西亚(Paul Ingrassia)表示：“在试图投资未来的同时成为所有领域的全球性玩家是不现实的。”英格拉西亚曾著有多本有关底特律汽车制造商的书。
But there are deeper questions about its structure and leadership. Faced with a similar quandary in 2015, Larry Page made Sundar Pichai chief executive of Google while he took over the “engine two” as chief executive of Alphabet, its parent. He judged that being an operating executive and an investor in the future was too much.
不过，福特公司的组织架构和领导方式还面临更深层的质疑。2015年，面临类似困境的拉里?佩奇(Larry Page)让桑德尔?皮查伊(Sundar Pichai)担任了谷歌的首席执行官，他则接管了“二号引擎”，担任谷歌母公司Alphabet的首席执行官。他认定，身兼运营高管和着眼于未来发展的投资者负担太重了。
The Ford reshuffle gives Mr Hackett and Mr Ford overlapping responsibilities, heading a team of 20 experienced executives whose combined age in 2016 was 1,096. In football terms, it is an extremely seasoned bench that knows how to play one game.
Mr Hackett has yet to confront all of Ford’s challenges, but some jobs are too big for anyone to fill.