51: Insights of Ford Motor Company’s Transformation

 

How Ford Motor Company transformed their culture and the impact Alan Mulally had to make it happen – shared by Scott Monty, an executive, keynote speaker and advisor. Learn a simple color coding for meetings that inspires openness and vulnerability.

 
 

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BIO of Scott Monty:

Scott Monty is an internationally recognized Fortune 10 leader whose background in classics positioned him to see through the shiny objects and drill down to understand the common human needs from throughout history that still drive us all.

Scott speaks to and advises executives on understanding trends while embracing the timeless wisdom of human nature through classical literature, philosophy, and history.   Scott spent six years as an executive at Ford Motor Company, where he helped turn the company around with an uncanny ability to merge technology with humanity.

He served as a strategic adviser across a variety of business functions, leading the company’s global social media strategy. He also has a another decade and a half of experience in communications and marketing agencies. Scott’s clients have included Walmart, IBM, McDonalds, Coca-Cola, and Google, and The Economist ranked him as #1 atop the list of 25 Social Business Leaders.  

He is a past board member of the American Marketing Association, a trustee of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and an adviser for a number of Silicon Valley companies. He writes about the changing landscape of business, technology, communications, marketing and leadership at ScottMonty.com, and produces the widely acclaimed weekly newsletter and podcast The Full Monty.  

 

LINKS TO SCOTT:

 

BOOKS SCOTT RECOMMENDS:

 

YOUR HOST: Mike Domitrz is the founder of The Center for Respect where he helps educational institutions, the US Military and businesses of all sizes create a culture of respect throughout their organizations. From addressing consent to helping corporations build a workplace free from fear (reducing sexual harassment and helping employees thrive by treating them with respect every day), Domitrz engages audiences by sharing skill sets they can implement into their lives immediately. As an author, trainer, keynote speaker and coach, Mike Domitrz loves working with leaders at all levels. Learn more at http://www.CenterForRespect.com

 

READ THE FULL TRANSCRIPTION of the EPISODE HERE (or download the pdf):

Mike Domitrz:                   Welcome to the Respect Podcast. I’m your host, Mike Domitrz from MikeSpeaks.com where we help organizations of all sizes, educational institutions, and the US Military create a culture of respect. And respect is exactly what we discuss on this show, so let’s get started.

Mike Domitrz:                   This week, so excited to introduce to you Scott Monty who is an executive keynote speaker and advisor, and probably is the only classics major who has been a global head of digital and social for a Fortune 10 brand. Scott, thank you so much for joining us.

Scott Monty:                      It’s my great pleasure, Mike.

Mike Domitrz:                   Well, we’re going to dive right in here. You were a classics major, and yet you worked for a Fortune 10 brand, and so I’m going to let you tell everybody, what brand was that?

Scott Monty:                      It was Ford Motor Company.

Mike Domitrz:                   Okay, awesome. And so how does respect come into the teachings of the ancient Greeks and Romans?

Scott Monty:                      Well, look I think there is so much that we can still learn from things that have happened in the past, and we tend to be so forward focused these days as technology, and digital, and social, and the whole online world pushes us in a forward direction. And yet, there is so much human wisdom and it has to do with the collective human nature that we had then and we still have now that is wrapped up in some of these ancient texts. And, I’ve been spending a lot of time recently re-reading some of the old stoics, the stoic philosophers like Seneca and Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius, and it really has to do with respect for the self, and respect for the individual, because in turn that leads to respect for others.

Mike Domitrz:                   Oh, I love that discussion. We often talk about on the show that you don’t change a culture, you change individuals, and actually they change themselves, that’s what leads to a transformation of culture is individuals changing, you don’t just go in and go, “Here’s a culture change.” You actually have to have people make significant changes as individuals.

Scott Monty:                      Yeah, you know and we saw that first hand at Ford when Allen Malally was brought in as the new CEO in 2006, he was brought from outside of the auto industry, he came in from Boeing and knew that Ford needed a culture change, and he was that change. He led as an individual, but he also gave his direct reports all of the tools and processes in order to start making those changes at the team level, and so there was this wonderful cascade, so there was a learned behavior that was mimicked all throughout the organization, and I was fortunate to join about two years after Allen was there, and the culture change was already inherent based on all of those changed leadership behaviors and it made my job that much easier.

Mike Domitrz:                   So give me some examples specific actions that were taken to create or instill their respect.

Scott Monty:                      Well, one of the things that we all had, and I still have it here, we all had an ID card, and there’s a tag right on the back of it that specifically said what the one Ford vision was, One Team, One Plan, One Goal, you turn it over and there was this acronym, Ford, and each section F-O-R-D had a bunch of descriptors underneath it, Own working together, which was the O, Believe in Skilled and motivated people working together, include everyone, respect, listen to, help and appreciate others, build strong relationships, be a team player, develop ourselves and others, communicate clearly, concisely, and candidly.

Mike Domitrz:                   And so I love that because there are companies who will put respect into their core values, which is what that’s referencing, that concept, what were things you say actually people do to make sure that that was being lived?

Scott Monty:                      Well, one of the things that was remarkable in these BPRs or business plan reviews that we did every week, there was a time when everyone would go around the table and they would review where they were with respect to their plan. And it was all color coded, green, yellow, red, and when someone came to a red, obviously it meant they were having trouble, and everyone would be listening intently, and as soon as they came to that red section and described what was going on, you would see hands shoot up from around the table of people saying, “Oh, I experienced something like that before in Brazil, or we went through this last year in Germany. Or, We say that in the engineering department,” and suddenly people would be jumping in to try and help each other out. And it was because there was respect for the process, and there was respect for the individuals who were following that process that had been laid out.

Mike Domitrz:                   And prior to that shift, and I know you said you came in about two years after, but it sounds like you’ve done a lot of study of the situation and how it changed, what was the difference in those kinds of experiences prior to this shift?

Scott Monty:                      Well, there were a couple of things, one is Ford had up until that point been a culture of knowledge hoarding rather than knowledge sharing. So people weren’t likely to share what they had learned before, and help others learn from their mistakes. And they were also, if anyone did admit a mistake, that was tantamount to being prepared for the guillotine, you know there was a historic first meeting that Alan had when he led his first corporate BPR, and he asked everyone to prepare their charts accordingly.

Scott Monty:                      And everyone came back the next week with green on all of their processes on all of their plans, and Allen said, “Well, let me get this straight, we’re on task to lose $17 billion this year, and everything is going okay? I think we need a little more honesty here.” And so the following week they came back and someone had one item lit up red, and everyone looked around the table to see what Allen’s reaction was going to be when that red item came up, and do you know, Allen stood up and he applauded that executive and said, “This is the kind of honesty and integrity that we need in order to get us out of the rut that we’re in”, and from there the whole culture around that table began to change, and people saw it, it was actually liberating that the truth would in fact set you free.

Mike Domitrz:                   All right, that’s awesome, so now you’ve got that culture started, maybe built at the executive level, how does it get taken to the next level.

Scott Monty:                      So everyone of those people that was around the table with Allen had their own team BPRs, so you had this process that was cascaded down, so everyone, two, three, four levels below them knew the same process that they had to follow and knew the same kind of intellectual honesty and integrity that they had to put into their team interactions and it just got to the point where it wasn’t tolerated to not participate, and it was okay if you had a red, you weren’t faulted for that, and your team members saw how they could actually pitch in and help you out, so there was this wonderful culture of when you see someone else helping someone else out, you’re more likely to jump in and help someone else out yourself.

Mike Domitrz:                   Absolutely. What was the language that created the safe space, in other words, sometimes in those settings, myself included, especially younger, which I think, “Oh, you’ve got to do this, or you should do this,” which can not feel safe in those moments, but you’re generally trying to help but you just become so passionate and basically what worked for you want them to do what you did, but you want to avoid that sympathy in those kind of meetings so that there is more ideas coming into the table versus one just dominating as a solution. How do they avoid that?

Scott Monty:                      Well, interestingly it was also it was also right in that card as well, show initiative, courage integrity, and good corporate citizenship, deal with our business realities and develop compelling and comprehensive plans. It was really the notion of, you are not faulted for trying, you are faulted for burying your head in the sand and ignoring, and I think that notion of … wasn’t necessarily tolerated failure but it was acceptable to fail knowing that you had a better plan backing it up to go and readdress that same problem.

Mike Domitrz:                   I apologize. I don’t think I was clear there on my own communication so I’m referring to the people who think they have the solution for the person who’s in red and how did they make sure that they communicate away that was not overbearing on how to solve the problem.

Scott Monty:                      It was really a matter of people sharing their perspective, giving a first-hand and true they saw. Wouldn’t necessarily be the answer but it would be an additional perspective that someone might not have known about and certainly the offer to have my people follow it up or I’ll put you in touch with so-and-so, it was always a very open positive helpful kind of attitude.

Mike Domitrz:                   Did you ever run into somebody, I mean normally in those settings somebody’s gonna wanna be, no you got to do it this way got to do this way, how when that would happen, especially early on in this culture shift how did they address that, how would they say to that person, maybe if you could say this by saying, in my experience I’ve seen this vs. this is what you should do.

Scott Monty:                      Yeah, it is funny because I don’t think there was a lot of prescriptive types of feedback simply because Ford hadn’t been in the habit of Sharing in that way, they had been holding back already, so to be able to say in my experience, or this happened to us last year or we just, saw was much more of a Natural Evolution from where I the company’s coming from

Mike Domitrz:                   That actually makes sense because they weren’t used to the freedom to express that way

Scott Monty:                      They didn’t have to unlearn that kind of sharing because there was no sharing before.

Mike Domitrz:                   Yeah, this is all at Ford. Where were you before Ford?

Scott Monty:                      Before Ford, I was working for a small consultancy back in Boston that specialized in helping big brands understand corporate social strategy.

Mike Domitrz:                   Okay, so how did you see respect show up in that setting where you’re dealing with multiple brands, multiple companies?

Scott Monty:                      Well that was a little more difficult, because herein you had some forward thinking players on the team who saw the potential in the digital and social space. And they were trying to convey that this effectively was the future. And often times they were coming up against individuals within the company who were very intractable. Very much stuck in the past or at least in the then present. And folks didn’t feel like they had the ability or the experience to be able to advocate for their own ideas effectively.

Mike Domitrz:                   So that becomes an environment that becomes difficult to go back to what we said with Ford, it becomes difficult to share.

Scott Monty:                      Some of the more forward thinking people that can see the writing on the wall and see where the future is headed got very frustrated, and almost very dismissive of their colleagues for not getting it. For not being as prescient as they were about the future. And really our job as counselors to them was to help back them away from the cliff. To bring down this strident tone that they may have had. And help them understand how they could help their colleagues adapt to this way of thinking. So for example, some of the ways that we would help them do it is, to help them think in terms of analog. If you’re thinking of trying to move someone into the digital space. That’s difficult if they don’t have any kind of frame of reference. So back it up and help them understand something that’s changed in their life over the course of their lifetime or that they’ve seen historically, that’s analog. And literally make the analogy to them as to what it means to digital.

Scott Monty:                      So, I’ll never forget this story that someone told about a trade publication that they were reading. And there was a boss who was very skeptical of this new technology that had come into the workplace. And they employees were trying to push him in that direction, he was very skeptical. Didn’t want to give up the space, didn’t want people wasting their time on it, didn’t want corporate secrets getting out. And finally the boss said, “all right, I’ll let you put a central kiosk in the middle of everyone’s desks on the floor so we can monitor how this technology is used. And so that it won’t be abused.”

Scott Monty:                      And most people were thinking, “Oh, it’s the computer, it’s the internet, it’s social media.” And it turns out, that article that was being conveyed and the trade publication was from the 1920s and the technology was the telephone. So in that case, helping people understand how difficult it was for a certain generation to adapt a new kind of technology like the telephone into the workplace and to understand, well look where we are now where the telephone is ubiquitous. So helping them understand how, historically, a frame of reference like that can be placed as a lens as to what their colleagues are trying to convey today.

Mike Domitrz:                   And you did this specifically with social media. And that’s your area, is digital and social media. And what do you think what are the struggles with really letting respect choose your path, drive your path when it comes to what you post in social media?

Scott Monty:                      The double edge sword with social is that it’s always on. Everyone has the ability to publish anything they want. Text, audio, or visual. Anytime they want. I have found, and I still make these mistakes every week every day, possibly. It’s very easy to simply hit that send button or to hit that publish button. When in fact, the respectful leader certainly can have an emotional reaction to something. Kind of a knee jerk reaction. But it’s always best to pause first, to wait 24 hours before you hit that send button or that publish button on something that’s controversial. Something that really gets you going. And that may degrade the respect that others have for you if in fact you did hit send.

Mike Domitrz:                   Do you find in the big corporate culture that when the reads are occurring and it’s national PR nightmare, that the call is, we have to get on social instantly to respond?

Scott Monty:                      Yeah, and I think that happened early on. I think now there’s almost a sense of futility there. Because the negative moves so quickly, light speed. It was always the case that … You know, the old proverb that a lie is halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to put his boots on. Now it’s a thousand fold, that. So I think the notion of quality over quantity, whether it’s in a crisis mode or whether it’s just in regular communications. The quality over quantity is something that is valued more highly now than ever before. And that getting it right rather than getting it first is absolutely essential.

Mike Domitrz:                   And what about quantity? So a lot of people out there going, “Look, if you’re gonna use social media and be impactful you’ve gotta be regular on it. Now that would contradict making it about quality because the odds are if you’re on it all the time and constantly posting, there’s only so much quality that you’re gonna be putting out there. So how do you view that?

Scott Monty:                      Quantity and consistency are not necessarily the same thing. So you can be on consistently every day but not be oversharing. You can have a regular cadence of when it is that you have office hours so to speak or when you engage with people. Certainly you want to respond to people that are asking questions or trying to engage you, but in terms of the outbound stuff, in terms of the stuff that you produce for other people, obviously you want to tone that down but do it with regularity.

Mike Domitrz:                   And how would you recommend the solo prenuer, the individual who is the brand potentially and yet also has a personal life and they want to be on social media. How do you balance that? The speaker, the author, we have a lot of those who listen to the show. How do you help them realize, okay if you’re just a brand, 50% of what you’re posting you would never post. But you’re not just a brand, you’re a person too. So that argument is that I’m person so I want to post like people post. How do you balance that.

Scott Monty:                      Well I think first and foremost, it’s essential that your brand is who you are. There’s no sense of having a professional you and a personal you if you’re a solo prenuer, you are you period. And having a sense of consistency throughout is important. The other thing is, you might want to pick and choose where you’re spending your time. You can’t spread yourself too thin. And maybe you can only be on one platform or maybe just two. But figure out which platform it is that makes the most sense for you that fits your brand, that is where the people are that you’re trying to reach and that helps you tell your story the most effectively.

Mike Domitrz:                   And when it comes to social media, what do think are the keys to making sure that people are thriving in social media with respect as their foundation?

Scott Monty:                      Well I think they always need to be listening. They need to understand what’s being said out there. What the current zeitgeist is, what people are talking about, what makes them move. But they also need to just understand what their audience wants from them. When I publish a blog post or even a podcast episode and I get feedback from my readers or listeners, I know that I’m doing something that’s worthwhile, I’m getting that feedback and seeking that out, even asking for it sometimes is incredibly helpful. Because ultimately that’s who you’re there to serve, you’re there to serve your audience, you’re not there to serve some wider agnostic public that isn’t really paying attention to you. It really is about the people that you’re building a relationship with over and over again.

Mike Domitrz:                   And nowadays, that’s called your avatar for our listener who are not aware of what I’m referring to it’s this idea that if I’m writing an article or I’m doing a podcast, I should in front of me be picturing a specific individual that would be the most likely demographic detailed description of the listener of this show. Or if I was writing for the date save project or work we do with corporations. I should be picturing person within each of those worlds that is most likely to be reading this. That avatar. And is that what you’re referring to also with social media? Hey, don’t just send it out there to send it out there. Who are you trying to draw in with what you’re sharing?

Scott Monty:                      Yeah, I think that’s exactly it, because you’ll hear from people. Whether it’s a coworker a neighbor a family member, whomever, there are people that you will begin to affect with what it is you’re saying. And don’t be afraid to stand, you wan to differentiate yourself from other people. You don’t want to seem so completely bland and irrelevant that you fit every profile. But as you say, picture in your mind who those people are. Picture the last email comment you got or the last comment you got on your blog or a tweet or a Facebook page, whatever it is, and think about that interaction that you had with that person and extend that conversation. If you were to turn this in to the great conversation, what would it sound like on the other end?

Mike Domitrz:                   Well I love this because I think a lot of times they’ll think, “Well my listeners are not the kind to interact or not this or not that.” And I always want to pause and go, “Well if you don’t like who your listener is, why aren’t you doing something for the listener you enjoy being with? Because that’s the world you’re building around you.”

Scott Monty:                      That’s exactly right. If we’re solo preneurs and producing content we do it for a reason. We do it because we’re being helpful. We do it because we enjoy it. We do it maybe because it keeps us on the cutting edge, whatever it is, you’re looking for a reaction. If you’re doing it only for yourself, well then maybe you should keep a journal and not do stuff publicly. And there’s good reasons for doing that as well. If you’re doing it for an audience, doing it for someone who enjoys what it is that you produce then you should be looking for that kind of feedback.

Mike Domitrz:                   Yeah, and thinking of the person that would give you that feedback is who you’re talking to. Because there are people are going to give you no feedback. Well then, and if you need feedback, I’m a person that does work off of feedback. I know that about myself, then I’m going to make sure that I’m drawing an audience that likes to give feedback. Otherwise, I’m going to be frustrated in this process.

Scott Monty:                      Absolutely. And it doesn’t have to be a huge audience. I mean, you could put a LinkedIn or Facebook group together of 10 people that are your audience that listen to your show. And if you have a really robust discussion and feedback from those 10 people, that’s amazing, right? And then you can grow it to 20 and then to 80 and then to 200. And then it begins to really become something.

Mike Domitrz:                   Yeah, love that. What are challenges, Scott, that you’ve faced along the way that taught you about respect?

Scott Monty:                      I think one of the most important ones is, when I went from this small consultancy into Ford, realizing that I didn’t … even though I was seen as the expert I didn’t have all the answers. And that was far from a one person job. That there was shared responsibility and shared expertise, and knowing when to step out of the way and let other people do what it is that they do better than me. And I think just having respect for everyone’s swim lane and what they can do and not trying to do everything yourself.

Scott Monty:                      As a solo prenuer, you tend to have to do everything yourself, or you want to do everything yourself. And when you’re apart of a team, you really need to learn to let other people shine.

Mike Domitrz:                   Yeah, absolutely. In your own journey throughout life, I call it, we have champions for respect in our lives. Who were champions for respect in your life?

Scott Monty:                      Well I think an early one was a boss I had just out of grad school, a guy by the name of Andy Ferara. Andy helped me understand how to respect my own station in life a little better. He saw me struggling in a new industry and trying to gain relevancy. And at one point he sat me down and he said, “you know, you just need to tell yourself I have arrived. Because from there everything will flow.” And it’s really a mental state about thinking highly enough of yourself to be able to understand that you’ve earned right at the table. You can sit shoulder to shoulder with a C level executive, etc. so I think that was extremely important.

Scott Monty:                      And then the second one had to be Alan Malaly at Ford. Just learning respect for others from him in a way that was almost bound by shear joy. And to see Alan interact with people just in the hallway or in the elevator or at an event. He was so happy to see everyone and he took the time to really engage with people and to make you feel like you were the only person in the room when he was talking with you. And that’s a gift. I don’t know that I have that gift. But I think about Alan and I try to aspire to be more like him everyday that I can.

Mike Domitrz:                   That’s beautiful. And you refer to your original learnings as far as learning the classics. And you referred to it earlier about the daily stoic, the book. And that’s by Ryan Holiday and Steven Hanselman. What about that book do you love? The Daily Stoic.

Scott Monty:                      I mean, first of all it’s something that can be a daily reminder. It’s set up in a such a way that you can read just a single page a day and work your way through the whole book in a year and have it with you always. Or you can do a deep dive into the sections that they have there and really understand the different perspectives that they have masterfully pulled out, the discipline of perception and the discipline of action, and the discipline of will. There’s whole sections in there that you can help guide yourself if you wanna work on any particular aspect of your personality.

Mike Domitrz:                   I love that. Well I want to thank you so much Scott for joining us. To our listeners, that’s scottmonty.com. Just like it sounds, M-O-N-T-Y.com Scott thank you so much for joining us.

Scott Monty:                      It’s my great pleasure, Mike. Thank you so much for having me on.

Mike Domitrz:                   Well absolutely. And for our listeners, you know what’s next. That’s the question of the week. Before I answer this weeks’ question of the week. I would love to ask you a question. Would you please subscribe to this podcast? The Respect Podcast with Mike Domitrz. By subscribing you can make a huge impact. Now you might be wondering, Mike how does my subscribing to you podcast make a huge impact?

Mike Domitrz:                   Well here’s how. For every person that subscribes, it raises the rankings of this show in the search engines. So for people who care about respect like yourself, when they’re doing a search for podcasts, they’re more likely to find this show thus providing and awesome opportunity for us to spread more respect around this world. And all you do is hit subscribe under your podcast.

Mike Domitrz:                   Plus, the second benefit is by subscribing you automatically get every episode right into your phone or whatever device you are listening to the podcast on. It happens automatically. So subscribing also makes your life easier. Now let’s get into this week’s question of the week. Oh, and by the way you can always ask your questions of the week by joining us on Facebook in our discussion group. It’s called the Respect Podcast Discussion Group. Go there on Facebook and ask whatever questions you would like me to answer and/or address in this segment of the show. And then listen to each episode to find out when your question is included.

Mike Domitrz:                   The question I got is, Mike what’s your favorite movie? This is always a difficult one. I love movies. I am moved by music, by entertainment, by art, including film. But there’s one movie that’s always stuck in my mind. And I think because when it came out I was struggling at the time so I’m emotionally attachment to the subject matter at hand but it also is a very powerful movie. And it’s one that never gets talked about, so I’m going to discuss it. And it’s called Prince of Tides. Barbara Streisand, Nick Nulty. I don’t want to give it up, I’m going to let you look it up. Prince of Tides is my movie that I’m sharing.

Mike Domitrz:                   You know what I would love? I would love to hear your answer to this week’s question of the week. So would you pleas answer what your answer would have been if you were asked that question today on the show. All you do is go to our Facebook page, we have a special group where we have these discussions called the Respect Podcast discussion group. So the Respect Podcast discussion group. And share with us what would your answer have been to this week’s question of the week, and to take a moment, post us a new question for future episodes. What question would you like to hear me answer in an upcoming episode.

Mike Domitrz:                   That’s all done on Facebook in our special group, which is the Respect Podcast discussion group. Can’t wait to see you there.

Mike Domitrz:                   Thank you for joining us for this episode of the Respect Podcast. Which was sponsored by the Date Save Project at datesaveproject.org. And remember you can always find me at mikespeaks.com …

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