When the Ralph Lauren Corporation recently unveiled a turnaround plan, calling it “The Way Forward,” it unwittingly invoked another all-American icon fallen on hard times: Ford Motor, whose “Way Forward” plan in 2006 saved the automaker from bankruptcy. Ford’s success has become a staple of business school case studies. And much of the current Ralph Lauren strategy seems inspired by the Ford playbook — enhancing a venerable but financially challenged brand by slashing costs, reducing the work force, closing stores and improving quality. At first blush, a cyclical automaker and a retail fashion designer would seem to have little in common. But like Ford before its recent renaissance, Ralph Lauren is a globally recognized symbol of American style and expertise that, in recent years, has faced growing competition, changing consumer tastes, steep discounting and slumping sales and profits. Read more at The New York Times.