Although Magee does indeed provide a brilliant analysis of how Carlos Ghosn "rescued" Nissan, the value of this book extends far beyond that admirable achievement. What we have here is a probing and informative analysis of a leadership and management style which provides important lessons to decision-makers in all organizations (regardless of size or nature) which currently struggle to compete successfully in their respective marketplaces. In a sense, the same skills required by a successful turnaround are also valuable in organizations which are currently prospering: "Be transparent and explain yourself in clear, lucid terms. Do as you say you are going to do. Listen first; then think." Prior to being reassigned by Renault to the Nissan organization, Ghosn had led the revivals of Michelin South America, Michelin North America, and Renault. According to Magee, he "may be the only person to have four verifiable corporate turnaround efforts on four different continents." Serious problems had developed at Nissan in the early 1990s. How serious? It was "strapped by $22-billion in debt, inflated supplier costs, and new product development that was at a standstill." This book explains how, under Ghosn's leadership, Nissan not only solved those and other problems; it regained a position of profitable and prominent leadership in one of the most competitive of industries.
As indicated previously, Ghosn is a firm believer in transparency throughout all areas and at all levels of an organization. For that reason, prior to the merger of Renault and Nissan, he created cross-company teams (CCTs) which "were charged with finding possible synergies between the companies and exploring specifically how these might work if an alliance was formed." Teams studied product planning, vehicle engineering, power trains, and purchasing. It is incomprehensible to me that Ghosn, a native of Porto Velho, Brazil, could convince those who worked in two such different companies, in cultures with such different values, to work effectively together. He advocated the same strategy which had succeeded so well at Michelin North America: "Assume nothing (find answers within the company), work fast, and earn trust and respect with strong results." As American colleague Jim Morton once said of Ghosn, "he knows how to get a commitment."
Obviously, throughout his career thus far, Ghosn has demonstrated a specific style of leadership and management which Shiro Tomii, a senior vice president in Japan, once summarized as follows: He establishes high, yet attainable goals; makes everything clear to all roles and levels of responsibility; works with speed; checks on progress; and appraises results based on fact. In this context, Magee notes by creating intracompany transparency, "only the facts survive. [Ghosn] loves it when data and analysis win and loses his patience when individuals persistently argue a point with nothing to back it up."
Once the Nissan Revival Plan (NRP) had restored hope, profits, and confidence in the company, Ghosn focused everyone's attention on NISSAN 180 which involves even more ambitious objectives and requires even greater commitments to achieve them. "So questions remain as to exactly how high and how far Nissan will go in its ultimate quest." However, this much is certain: "Renault took a chance. Ghosn went to work. And Nissan responded. Together, they changed world business forever." That is the story which Magee has told in this book and he has done so with rigor and eloquence.