It was the best of decisions, it was the worst of decisions, it was the epitome of wisdom, it was the height of foolishness—in short, the team demonstrated its considerable strengths and exposed its shocking limitations.
The executive team at Ford Motor Company in the 1950s played a leading role in a tale of two decisions that produced dramatic outcomes at the corporation. One decision involved saving the storied V-8 engine—a motor with nearly enough full-bore power to set a land speed record and unquestionably enough consumer appeal to sell millions of cars. The other led to the development and manufacture of a disastrous product: the Edsel, a name that has become synonymous with an utter lack of market focus. One striking aspect of this tale is that largely the same group of leaders made both decisions.
This chapter is about the lessons to be learned from this and other tales of leadership groups:
Chase Morsey Jr. almost single-handedly saved the V-8,1 as he tells the reader in his aptly titled autobiography, The Man Who Saved the V-8. Someone who has the capacity to credit himself with that tremendous feat will also make no ...