Winterspeak of Assymetrical Information is skeptical about Ford’s offering of financial incentives to present employees to have them relinquish their jobs:
Who should not take the offer and hang on to their current job? Why, those whose opportunity costs are high, namely those who could not find another employer based on the skill set they have now and the skill set they can reasonably develop over time, at their current wage. We used to call this group “the overpaid”.
I think that Ford’s strategy is a little cannier than Winterspeak is giving it credit for.
I deal with Ford folks on nearly a daily basis on behalf of one of my clients and have done for 20 years. Over that period Ford has already downsized something like 20%. As I count it they’re planning to downsize an additional 25-30%.
There are two problems with Winterspeak’s model of Ford behavior. The first is that current employees who “are confident that they can get a new, well paid job somewhere else” left years ago. The second and more serious problem is that at companies like Ford productivity is not determined by the individual employee but by the job. The constraints of the organization, the corporate culture, and the structure of individual jobs place an upper limit on just how productive a worker holding one of those jobs can be. Under those circumstances people really are just interchangeable parts in the big Ford machine. If you want to reduce the part count, it really doesn’t matter much which parts are the ones that go.
Will Ford be able to “shrink to grow”? Frankly, I doubt it. To do that they’d need to change their way of doing things. They’d need to favor efficiency and creativity over procedure. Quite to the contrary I think that they’re just trying to weather the storm, hoping that there will be fair skies ahead.
I don’t believe those fair skies will ever come. Soon China will be entering the world automobile and the rules of the game will change not just for Ford, Daimler-Chrysler, and GM but for Toyota and Hyundai, too.