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I was in the Ford boardroom in Dearborn, Michigan, as the 2000 Firestone tire recall exploded. Indeed, I had been quoted the previous day in the Wall Street Journal arguing that it was time for the giant auto company to “overreact” in the same way that Johnson & Johnson did during the Tylenol scare. This was not popular with Ford’s then-CEO, Jacques Nasser, chairing the meeting on the 12th floor of the company’s world headquarters building.
The recall ultimately involved some 13 million tires and estimated costs to Ford of $3 billion. So, I know well that product recalls are the stuff of nightmares for business leaders. Who in their right mind would wish one on themselves?
Look no further. Having announed what may well be the first product recall for a management concept — the Triple Bottom Line — back in June, I have been energetically scanning to find out what recent decades have taught us about designing and executing effective recalls.