CEO Carlos Ghosn of Renault-Nissan Alliance on Innovation | Summary and Q&A

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January 21, 2014
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Stanford Graduate School of Business
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CEO Carlos Ghosn of Renault-Nissan Alliance on Innovation

TL;DR

Carlos Ghosn discusses his experience leading the global alliance between Renault and Nissan and shares insights about the future of electric vehicles and autonomous driving.

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Key Insights

  • 🥺 Leading a global alliance requires empathy, common sense, and the ability to connect with people from different cultures and backgrounds.
  • ⚾ Decisiveness is important in leadership, but it should be based on adequate analysis and timing to ensure effective execution.
  • 🖤 Electric vehicles have great potential for growth, but the lack of infrastructure, such as charging stations, is a barrier to their mass adoption.
  • 🦺 Autonomous driving is the future of transportation, offering solutions for safety and mobility, particularly for elderly and disabled individuals.

Transcript

[MUSIC] >> On behalf of the entire Stanford community, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us today. I'm delighted to get the chance to, to have this conversation. I'd like to structure the interview around two forms of leadership. Your approach to leading the global alliance. And then, secondly, Renault-Nissan's, leadership in both ... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: How did Carlos Ghosn approach leading the recovery of Nissan in 1999?

Ghosn accepted the challenge to lead Nissan's recovery, despite the personal and professional difficulties involved. He believed in the opportunity to make a difference and bring a strong contribution to the company.

Q: Why did Ghosn decide to make changes to the Keiretsu system and challenge the seniority system in Japan?

Ghosn believed that these changes were necessary to address the weaknesses and limitations of the existing systems at Nissan. He wanted to create a more inclusive and performance-driven culture where younger employees with talent could have equal opportunities.

Q: What is the role of common sense in leadership?

Common sense helps leaders stay focused on their mission and make decisions that align with the goals of their organization. It allows leaders to understand the fundamental needs and expectations of their stakeholders and stay on track.

Q: What is the future of electric vehicles and autonomous driving?

Ghosn believes that electric vehicles and autonomous driving are the future of the automotive industry. He highlights the need for infrastructure development, such as charging stations, to support the growth of electric vehicles. Ghosn also emphasizes the potential of autonomous driving in improving safety and mobility for people of all ages and abilities.

Summary

In this video interview, the CEO of Renault-Nissan, Carlos Ghosn, discusses his leadership approach and the challenges he faced in turning around Nissan. He talks about the opportunity he saw in leading the recovery of the company and the personal sacrifices he had to make. Ghosn also discusses the importance of having a plan developed by the people within the company and the need for buy-in from employees. He emphasizes the importance of execution and making decisive decisions at the right time. Ghosn also shares his thoughts on the future of the automotive industry, including electric vehicles and autonomous driving.

Questions & Answers

Q: How did Ghosn think about the offer to lead the recovery of Nissan?

Ghosn saw the opportunity as a chance to make a lasting impact and contribute something measurable and visible to the company. Despite the uncertainty of success, he took the opportunity because he wanted to create a before and after in Nissan's history.

Q: What was Ghosn's first day at Nissan like?

Ghosn's first day at Nissan involved trying to establish a communication system and familiarize himself with the locations and key people within the company. He had to overcome language and cultural barriers to start making decisions and executing his plans.

Q: Why did Ghosn not want to use outside consultants to help turn around Nissan?

Ghosn believed that the solutions needed to come from inside the company in order to ensure buy-in and commitment from employees. He wanted the plan to be a Nissan plan, created by the people within the company.

Q: What did Ghosn do differently to help Renault and Nissan help themselves?

Ghosn focused on identifying the problems within the company and listening to the people involved in critical process areas. He interviewed as many people as possible, allowing the solutions to come from within the company. He also made changes that would deliver results and ensure commitment from employees.

Q: How did Ghosn challenge the status quo in Japan?

Ghosn challenged the traditional Japanese way of doing business by making changes that were necessary for the revival of Nissan. He dismantled parts of the Keiretsu system, challenged the seniority system, and promoted diversity within the company. He explained the reasons for these changes and committed to the results.

Q: How did Ghosn have the confidence to challenge the status quo in Japan?

Ghosn knew that he was in Japan to turn around the company, and he made decisions based on that mission. He had the confidence and determination to fix the problems at Nissan and knew that changing certain habits was necessary for success. He explained the changes and committed to the results, gaining the support of employees.

Q: What does Ghosn think are the most important attributes of leadership?

Ghosn believes that empathy, the capacity to connect with people, is the most important attribute of leadership. He emphasizes the importance of understanding different cultures and perspectives in order to bring people together. Decisiveness is also important, but it should mean making the right decisions at the appropriate time, not just quick decisions.

Q: Why is Ghosn excited about autonomous driving?

Ghosn sees autonomous driving as a way to improve safety and expand the market for transportation. He believes that autonomous vehicles can help achieve zero accidents on the road and provide transportation options for seniors and people with physical impairments. Ghosn also mentions the readiness of the technology for autonomous driving.

Q: What is Ghosn's personal leadership philosophy?

Ghosn believes that making a difference is what matters most. He wants to have the impression that he has made a difference, whether it's professionally or socially. Ghosn emphasizes the importance of being part of a team and contributing to something that will bring about change.

Takeaways

Carlos Ghosn shares his insights on leadership and turning around a struggling company in this video interview. He emphasizes the importance of making a difference and connecting with people. Ghosn believes in the power of execution and making decisions at the right time. He also discusses the future of the automotive industry, particularly electric vehicles and autonomous driving.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Carlos Ghosn reflects on his decision to go to Nissan in 1999, despite the personal and professional challenges he faced, and how he led the company's recovery and turnaround.

  • He emphasizes the importance of common sense in leadership and the need for empathy to connect with people and understand their needs.

  • Ghosn discusses the potential of electric vehicles and autonomous driving and highlights the need for infrastructure development to support their growth.

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