November 9, 1960: Robert McNamara becomes president of Ford Motor Organization just one day following John F. Kennedy is elected President of the United States.
He may have only held automotive workplace for a handful of weeks before becoming JFK’s Secretary of Defense, but McNamara’s legacy at Ford is everlasting. Nonetheless, after saving the business from its personal ill-planned and cannibalistic Edsel division, he later produced an Edsel of his own in the Vietnam War.
Following Globe War II, Ford desperately necessary new blood and fresh ideas. The company had survived the Fantastic Depression and “The Big One” but had fallen on tougher times than General Motors or Chrysler. After Henry Ford handed the reigns over to his grandson, Henry Ford II, his initial act was to hire a batch of “Whiz Kids” that were supposed to turn the firm about. In reality, these youngsters were ten adult United States Army Air Force veterans who produced up element of a then cutting-edge management science operation during the war.
McNamara, Whiz Kid and legitimate numbers geek, helped to streamline Ford and make it lucrative again. The technique incorporated restructuring the business itself and modernizing its stodgy cars.
Ford’s model of 1949 signaled the starting of a new “modern look”, with completely integrated rear fenders and a unique grille. It also heralded better occasions for the organization. However, by 1957 a marketing disaster loomed in the type of the Edsel division. Costing Ford a fortune, Edsel suffered from consumer animosity due to its controversial styling and unclear location in the market. Slotted ridiculously close to the Mercury range in price tag, customers couldn’t inform if an Edsel was supposed to be a premium Ford or a spending budget Lincoln.
McNamara not-so-secretly hated the idea and had already opposed the improvement of separate divisions for Lincoln, Mercury, and Edsel. He also saw to it that the Continental model was adopted by Lincoln and not spun off as its own brand. By 1958, McNamara had ensured that subsequent Edsel cars would share their body shells with Ford and, by 1959, he went to operate on decreasing Edsel’s marketing budget to virtually nothing. All throughout Edsel’s calculated destruction, McNamara was pushing his own agenda for a small, uncomplicated and inexpensive-to-create vehicle. The small vehicle, named the Falcon, emerged as an immediate sales accomplishment for Ford.
On November 9, 1960, McNamara became the initial president of Ford Motor Organization from outside the Ford family members. However, his time in the huge office would be quick lived. 1 day prior, John F. Kennedy had been selected as the 35th U.S. President and he required a Secretary of Defense. While he initially provided the role to former secretary Robert A. Lovett, Lovett declined and suggested McNamara.
Sometimes fate is cruel. For as excellent as McNamara was with logistics and organizing, he would be remembered forever as the engineer of America’s most disastrous military entanglement. In his 1995 memoir, In Retrospect, he said of the Vietnam War, “We had been incorrect, terribly wrong. We owe it to future generations to clarify why.”
When the war ground to a bloody halt, 58,000 Americans had lost their lives and the nation had changed forever.
Robert McNamara was possibly the most influential Secretary of Defense of the 20th century. Serving under John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, he oversaw hundreds of military actions and billions of dollars in military spending. He played a direct role in facilitating diplomacy on foreign soil and decided how the U.S. government need to involve itself in handling the civil rights movement on its personal soil.
It is safe to say that McNamara was easily the most effective car guy in history.