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Bennie Fowler on Go Further

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 Ford Group Vice President for Quality Reflects on How His Team, Ford Go Further

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DEARBORN - @Ford Online recently interviewed Ford Group Vice President for Quality Bennie Fowler on how the company's new Go Further global brand promise is a part of his team's DNA.  Below is an excerpt from that discussion.

Q. How do you describe Go Further to your team?
A. It’s pretty simple. First, our responsibility here is to really get the information that we receive from our customers in the marketplace and to ensure that it is translated to all the teams that design, develop and manufacture products at the Ford Motor Company.  When I think about going further for our customers, I would like them to have a perfect car – a car that has no defects, a car that gets the fuel economy that they want, a car that has the technology they enjoy, a car which they’re excited about how it functions and how it makes their lives better.  And we’re advocates for the customers in every respect.

Q. What are some of the reactions you’ve had to Go Further?
A. We think it’s a perfect time as we make this transition from the survival mode into the thrive mode and we’re excited about the opportunity.  My teams have responded that this is the right time for us to continue our journey toward being best in class and best in the world in terms of every element of quality. 

Q. What does Go Further represent to you?  How does it reflect the way you and your team have been working day to day?
A. We’ve focused on hearing what our customers have shared with us about every element of quality.  When you listen to what customers really talk about in terms of quality, they really want a vehicle that is free from defects.  They don’t want things to break so they have to go back to the dealership.  So from our standpoint, it’s every claim, every day.  It’s making sure that we’re delivering world-class products every time repeatable.  Customers expect vehicles that deliver on the fuel economy promises that we have. They expect vehicles that are exciting to drive so when that vehicle pulls up in their driveway it attracts people to them. So it’s that performance and excitement quality that we’re looking to deliver every time to our customers.  Additionally, we want to provide the technology that really makes our customers lives better. 

Q. Can you give a few examples of how your team has gone further in delivering the One Ford plan and, in the end, benefited customers?
A. I have a global team that travels all over the world.  When we travel all over the world, the one thing that we’re doing is working with all of the major functions to have reliable processes.  Reliable processes that deliver vehicles time after time in a repeatable fashion that our customers appreciate and  enjoy.  We do quite a bit of training.  We’ve probably trained over the last five years more than 20,000 people around the world in the various aspects of quality, making sure that every individual knows what our quality processes are and they’re deploying them methodically in a way that’s going to help us satisfy our customers.  We really think that when you look at a defect-free product it’s not only good for our customers; it’s also great for our business.  And over the past few years we’ve probably eliminated over $2 billion of warranty spent just in delivering great products for our customers.  So it’s been good for our customers and it's also been great for our business.

Q. What does Go Further mean to you personally?
A. It’s fairly simple for me.  I want to deliver a perfect vehicle every time.  Every time you get into a Ford product, I want you to be happy and excited that you bought a Ford vehicle.  And I just won’t rest until that happens. 

Q. How do you feel Go Further distinguishes us from our competitors?
A. I think all of us who work in the quality organization and all of us at Ford need to work so that every decision we make becomes a competitive advantage. So the people that design, manufacture, build and deliver products have to think quality first in everything that they do.  I think as long as we do that in the marketplace, with 360,000 people strong, we will win the game in terms of quality. 

Q. In what ways do you feel Go Further contributes to Ford’s transformation process? 
A. I think that when you talk about the quality in services that you have, customers need to have confidence in the purchases that they make.  An automobile is probably one or two of the biggest purchases people will make with their hard-earned money.  If a customer is going to put that kind of money down and they’re going to rely on that kind of transportation to get them to the places they want to go, they need to have the confidence that the purchase is going to be built to last. When I think about that, I’m always thinking about it in terms of me, my family, my wife, my children driving a Ford product. I really want them to feel safe, to feel confident that the product they have is going to take them to where they want to be without any incident.  So it’s a very personal thing for me.

Q. Do you have any additional comments you'd like to share?
A. In Quality, we’ve been working quite a bit on standardizing our processes around the world to drive continuous improvement. And when you think about the transformation at Ford – One Ford is really about the standardization, the moving to common platforms for our designs and for our processes.  And that is leading to both quality and productivity.  When I think about the transformation at Ford, and what we do in our Quality office, it’s at the heart of everything we do.  That drive toward standardization is really critical to our success in both quality and productivity. 

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3/22/2012 6:00 AM