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on February 2, 2017
I have to confess that this book was a complete stunner. I purchased it hoping to get a decent idea of what Ford went through during the economic crisis of 2006-2009, but this book proved to be a detailed, engrossing story that I could barely put down. Anyone who follows the news is well aware of the debacle that was the US auto industry in 2007, but Hoffman provides such depth in describing the issues facing the industry and the corporate in-fighting that it almost reads like fiction.

You are instantly endeared to Bill Ford as a man that can put aside his own ego for the good of the company he loves, and you root for Alan Mullaly throughout the book even though we already know Ford made it through to the other side. His belief in his system and his ability to completely change the corporate culture of a multi-national company are truly inspiring.

Outside the story itself, there are all sorts of interesting factoids to be found such as how the common stock was set up to ensure the Ford family maintained voting rights, and how neither Chrysler or General Motors would've survived if President Obama had stuck to President Bush's original requirements. The book delivers on so many different levels. I highly recommend to anyone with an interest in business or just an interest in a great story.
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on December 13, 2016
This is an excellent book on Mullaly and more importantly, on Ford. If you want to understand why their car's all sucked before 2006, this will get you that understanding. It is well researched (I know because I used that research to find facts for a lawsuit against Ford). It is written in a clear and engaging style. When I am recognized as Lawyer of the Millenia I'll get Hoffman to write my bio.
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on April 15, 2016
This is a wonderful book about a humble and smart inspiring man and the Ford turnaround. This true life story of how Ford was saved reads like a thriller if you like business tension, pressure and passion. I could not put the book down and learnt great lessons about teamwork, how to negotiate fairly and how to survive a financial storm like no other!
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on January 25, 2015
"Business thriller, you say?" Yes. Lots and lots of business books eventually grow weary covering a person, timeline or well-known chain of events, and at some point are no longer engaging. However, "American Icon" is a rare breed of business event chronicle, which you'll find very hard to put down once you start reading it.

The preface indicates that Bryce Hoffman had unprecedented access to Ford employees and what otherwise would be secret internal documents that would generally never see the light of day. No doubt, this story couldn't be told if it weren't for the willingness of the players to be interviewed and provide their notes and innermost thoughts to Hoffman.

The book reads neutral. Hoffman provides no perceived editorial to the events that unfolded. The author is a master storyteller, writing about actual events, human reactions and internal procedures and strife. What is most remarkable about his writing style is how the characters are humanized, not so much by the author's effort, but by his incorporation of the relevant facts about a situation, dialog, meeting or place which reminds us that those involved were a lot more like those of us reading the book than they were captains of industry.

In some circles writers and journalists have been criticized for painting Mulally in much too positive a light as Ford's savior. I suppose Hoffman could have that same accusation made about his coverage of Mulally in "American Icon". But the book provides so much background detail about meetings and personal interactions that it becomes very clear early in the book that Mulally really is as genuine and down-to-earth as he has been portrayed in other media. Hoffman also documents that Mulally knows about his honest personality and uses that to his advantage when meeting with cross-town rivals, union leaders, the media and even Congress.

Bill Ford is also treated fairly and his roll in all of the mess is made crystal clear. Again, Hoffman demystifies Ford's roll, corrects many of my own assumptions about who he is personally and also provides some insight into the types of individuals in the Ford family. The topic of the Ford family comes up a number of times in the book and Hoffman lays out very squarely that some of the family are nothing more than decedents of the fortune who have no daily connection to the company, and others as mid-level managers, learning and guiding the business, who live and breathe by the companies success and failure and desperately want it to succeed. In some respects the book portrays the family as having to learn to surrender to this hand picked outsider (Mulally) and they have never really had to trust somebody off the street to save their enterprise.

This is a must read for anyone who wishes to study the modern American auto industry and get an in-depth picture of one organizations response to financial crises which were both self created and forced upon them by the external environment.
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on December 4, 2014
Absolutely awesome story of how Alan Mulally saved Ford by fundamentally changing the culture (as well as by many organizational and technical changes, too). He truly understands how to inspire great work by his colleagues and bring them out of a massively dysfunctional culture. Creating "One Ford" was a brilliant undertaking. Leadership at its best!! Every organizational leader will do well to read and emulate his leadership style and substance.

One of my favorite parts was where the direct reports to Alan were trying to put him in his place by saying that autos were very complex, required long lead times to create, and thousands of parts had to come together just right so the vehicle would run well. He answered that an airplane has two million parts and if they don't all work together the airplane falls out of the sky. There were no more comments like that.

A second one was about two months into his effort when one person, who is now the current CEO, dared to say something wasn't going well in one of the Canadian operations under his organization. Alan applauded him by clapping his hands and then immediately asked who could help with that problem. Two people quickly said what they would do and the problem was solved the next month. That broke the dam of hiding information. Trust was beginning to build from that point on. The weekly Thursday meeting was another brilliant innovation to keep things moving rapidly and solving problems as they went forward with plans many of his subordinates had developed. It was in knitting all this together that Alan's brilliance and caring came forth.

I'm passing the book on to my four sons if they don't buy it as recommended (I don't have it to refer to because one is already reading it). And the author is a very, very engaging writer. I could hardly put the book down. As good as a mystery or SciFi book.

We could sure use Alan's soulfulness and processes in our state governments, nationwide. That would help our national dysfunction, too. (Maybe he could be forced to run for President?? Plato said competent people have to be forced to govern because of all the calumny that is heaped on them. Since we can't do that, we are condemned to be governed by power-hungry incompetents and we are seeing that, in spades.)
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on March 18, 2017
Intertwined in the midst of a wonderful comeback story are proven leadership principles that can be applied anywhere. Alan Mulally was the leader Ford needed and he got the team on board to bring Ford back from the brink.
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on February 5, 2016
I don't read much but I picked this book up because I like Ford and non-fiction is my style if I do read. I needed a book to read when I travel for work so I tried this out after reading such good reviews. This book is absolutely amazing. It starts by telling this history of Ford from the beginning and how it got through years of hardship and up through the Allen Mulally era. I actually didn't want to put it down and that's saying a lot for me since I'm usually one to prefer a movie to a book. This book is great for Ford lovers and I think it would be good for people who are interested in business and American history in general.
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on December 15, 2016
Very interesting story of the saving of an American institution by a very capable man. I had no idea how mismanaged the company was or the depth of their financial problems. Credit Bill Ford for having the guts to realize that he did not have the ability to save the company. His choice of a savior and the turn around is the stuff of legends.

Very well researched and written.
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on December 30, 2013
This is a business book but reads like a novel with plot, character development and great suspense . It is extremely well written and makes for a very enjoyable read. I certainly look fwd to the next book. The author puts to use the access he has to the key people of the story.

As the book ends, the Ford turnround per se is achieved but it begs for an epilogue in the near future or maybe a follow up about the search for Mr. Right, a replacement for Mullaly, and how a new leader will have Ford pursue and adjust Mullaly's Legacy.

A few interesting points for me.

- The adequacy of the duo Mullaly / Bill Ford: Mr. Hoffman mostly focuses on Mullaly, the main character. But he also emphasizes Bill Ford's self awareness. By acting the way he did, B. Ford enabled the Mullaly's success and deserves much credit for that. This is a useful teaching for any business successes to look for the enablers.
- Related to the former point: the end of the book where the author reflects on the various elements of the turnaround context is also useful. It is tempting to regard Mullaly as the white knight who shows up and figures it out. And Mullaly does that anyways. But it is happening in a context that matters a great deal to give full force to Mullaly's leadership qualities.
- The book is about the Ford turnaround but I would have liked more writing about Mullaly's life within Ford: how did he relate to his family during his tenure so far. Was he struck by any personal tragedy after he became a CEO? Anything that brought any self doubt? What are his favored books / authors? What does he do when he does not work? Does he speak any language other then English, etc. it is not about digging dirt, of course, but merely humanize him and allow the reader perhaps to better relate to him in a way. Or is he just THAT perfect?
- Each chapter is preceded by a quote from Henry Ford, putting the content under his intellectual patronage. Each chapter connects well with the chosen quote, somehow Bringing H Ford's wisdom across decades into the present. Nothing wrong on face value. But given the rather complex and larger-than-life Henry Ford (including unsavory sides), it would have deserved a few lines in the intro to better define the boundaries of this intellectual patronage (or did I just miss it?).
- The book is a perfect illustration of the Chinese idea of crisis: at once a danger and an opportunity. Or as Rahm Emanuel puts it: "Never waste a crisis".
- Little is said about the consequence of the downsizing of Ford on former employees and communities where they lived. A change in the company and the industry did not go without affecting many lives… It is not the subject of the book but could have put in perspective the positive tone of the turnaround and highlighted some costs.
- Ford and then Mullaly efforts are narrated over a period of time when Wall Street went crazy. I read "The Big Short" by Michael Lewis and the 2 books offer an interesting contrast. Mullaly (re)built a company that actually makes something whereas the WS financiers did not "make" anything and ran the economy to the ground. He is quoted at some point of the book saying something like "all value comes from engineers". This is an interesting proposition to reflect on.
- There might be a similar story to write about a high tech / software giant at some point soon. Microsoft post-Gates is looking for someone to replace Balmer. Maybe Apple in a post-Cook leadership. Perhaps later Google and Facebook… The high tech industry is currently going through a major change and those who will know how to lead a large company reinvention should be an interesting subjects for the talented Mr. Hoffman.
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on March 9, 2016
This eyewitness account to the amazing transformation of a storied American company is truly fascinating. I saw Jay Leno speak highly about this book during one of his many auto/garage programs. This book did not disappoint. I bought a Ford Escape in 2006, and I couldn't help but contrast the Ford dealer offerings then (in 2006) with what Ford offers now after Alan Mulally took over. This book chronicles the evolution of the company to its current dominance - all in the context of Ford's historic past.
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