Whats in a Mission: A Tale of Two Car Companies

The American car industry has taken a lot of slack over the past two decades, and even more so with recent government bailouts. The perception of Americans cars are at a all-time low, and customers are flocking to foreign cars. Fords’ CEO Alan Mulally knew had an uphill battle, but he created focus. His mission ‘One Ford‘ – a lean company, giving the people what they want and value, creating an exciting company that is profitable. One Team – One Plan – One Goal.

Ford Mission Statement

Has it worked? Earlier this year Ford made its first profits since 2005, and they’ve created cars for people to talk about. Cars that are more fuel efficient, has a GPS that finds the most eco-friendly routes, and even a system that sync’s with your Apps and allows for voice control. Ford is now considered one of the most innovative companies – and it all came from having a strong sense of mission.
What about the companies who are losing in the industry? Look at Saturn, whose mission was to:

“market vehicles developed and manufactured in the U.S. that are world leaders in quality, cost, and customer satisfaction through the integration of people, technology, and business systems and to transfer knowledge, technology, and experience throughout General Motors.”

It essentially doesn’t tell us anything. One of Saturn’s key core values was to create affordable, high quality cars, with high customer satisfaction. That went by the wayside when they dropped their lower cost lines (models between $8k – 14k) and instead pursued SUV’s and higher end lines (low $16k, high $30k). Instead of expanding their market share in what they knew how to do best – Saturn kept deviating off their original mission and tried to expand their brand.
How much did that effect the company? In 1995 the Saturn S-series outsold the Honda Civic by 7%; in 2004, the Saturn Ion (replacement to the S-series) was outsold by the Honda Civic by 197%. Due to the restructuring from government bailouts, GM has decided to phase out Saturn for 2010.
Do you know your companies mission?