Always a thirst of progress
The progress has been wonderful enough but when we compare what we have done with what there is to do, then our past accomplishments are as nothing.
Service + waste management must go hand in hand
The present system does not permit of the best service because it encourages every kind of waste it keeps many men from getting the full return from service. And it is going nowhere. It is all a matter of better planning and adjustment.
Balance of brainstorming and trying out new ideas
I have no quarrel with the general attitude of scoffing at new ideas. It is better to be skeptical of all new ideas and to insist upon being shown rather than to rush around in a continuous brainstorm after every new idea. Skepticism, if by that we mean cautiousness, is the balance wheel of civilization.
Ideas are nothing without execution
Ideas are of themselves extraordinarily valuable, but an idea is just an idea. Almost any one can think up an idea. The thing that counts is developing it into a practical product.
True prosperity and happiness
The natural thing to do is to work to recognize that prosperity and happiness can be obtained only through honest effort. Human ills flow largely from attempting to escape from this natural course.
Experience vs reformer
The man who calls himself a reformer wants to smash things. He is the sort of man who would tear up a whole shirt because the collar button did not fit the buttonhole. It would never occur to him to enlarge the buttonhole. This sort of reformer never under any circumstances knows what he is doing. Experience and reform do not go together.
Foundations of society
The foundations of society are the men and means to grow things, to make things, and to carry things. As long as agriculture, manufacture, and transportation survive, the world can survive any economic or social change.
Government help and self-help
When you get a whole country as did ours thinking that Washington is a sort of heaven and behind its clouds dwell omniscience and omnipotence, you are educating that country into a dependent state of mind which augurs ill for the future. Our help does not come from Washington, but from ourselves; our help may, however, go to Washington as a sort of central distribution point where all our efforts are coordinated for the general good.
Who said this? “We don’t make movies to make money, we make money to make more movies” - Walt Disney
Money comes naturally as the result of service. And it is absolutely necessary to have money. But we do not want to forget that the end of money is not ease but the opportunity to perform more service.
On an idle life…
In my mind nothing is more abhorrent than a life of ease. None of us has any right to ease. There is no place in civilization for the idler.
Why manual farming is inefficient
Lack of knowledge of **what is going on and lack of knowledge of **what the job really is and the best way of doing it are the reasons why farming is thought not to pay.
Improved product !== changed product. Research existing info first
When we talk about improvements usually we have in mind some change in a product. An “improved” product is one that has been changed. That is not my idea. I do not believe in starting to make until I have discovered the best possible thing. This, of course, does not mean that a product should never be changed, but I think that it will be found more economical in the end not even to try to produce an article until you have fully satisfied yourself that utility, design, and material are the best. If your researches do not give you that confidence, then keep right on searching until you find confidence.
12 consistent long years before Model T
The big thing is the product, and any hurry in getting into fabrication before designs are completed is just so much waste time. I spent twelve years before I had a Model T which is what is known to-day as the Ford car that suited me. We did not attempt to go into real production until we had a real product. That product has not been essentially changed.
Test out every single possibility
I do not believe in letting any good idea get by me, but I will not quickly decide whether an idea is good or bad. If an idea seems good or seems even to have possibilities, I believe in doing whatever is necessary to test out the idea from every angle. But testing out the idea is something very different from making a change in the car.
Every steel had a substitute test case
All our steels are special, but for every one of them we have at least one, and sometimes several, fully proved and tested substitutes.
The functionality of the product is most important
The principal part of a chisel is the cutting edge. If there is a single principle on which our business rests it is that. It makes no difference how finely made a chisel is or what splendid steel it has in it or how well it is forged if it has no cutting edge it is not a chisel. It is just a piece of metal. All of which being translated means that it is what a thing does not what it is supposed to do that matters.
Principle of the way we do work
So if we want to work why not concentrate on the work and do it in the quickest possible fashion?
Efficiency of both man and machine in automation
The cutting edge of a factory is the man and the machine on the job. If the man is not right the machine cannot be; if the machine is not right the man cannot be. For any one to be required to use more force than is absolutely necessary for the job in hand is waste.
Waste and greed in manufacturing
Both waste and greed are unnecessary. Waste is due largely to not understanding what one does, or being careless in doing of it. Greed is merely a species of nearsightedness. I have striven toward manufacturing with a minimum of waste, both of materials and of human effort, and then toward distribution at a minimum of profit, depending for the total profit upon the volume of distribution.
Principles of doing business
Scratching his own itch?
I was born on July 30, 1863, on a farm at Dearborn, Michigan, and my earliest recollection is that, considering the results, there was too much work on the place. That is the way I still feel about farming. There is a legend that my parents were very poor and that the early days were hard ones. Certainly they were not rich, but neither were they poor.
Getting started with mechanics
There was too much hard hand labour on our own and all other farms of the time. Even when very young I suspected that much might somehow be done in a better way. That is what took me into mechanics although my mother always said that I was born a mechanic.
Toys and tools
My toys were all tools they still are! And every fragment of machinery was a treasure.
From models to machines
I tried to make models of it, and some years later I did make one that ran very well, but from the time I saw that road engine as a boy of twelve right forward to to-day, my great interest has been in making a machine that would travel the roads.
By the time I was fifteen I could do almost anything in watch repairing although my tools were of the crudest. There is an immense amount to be learned simply by tinkering with things. It is not possible to learn from books how everything is made and a real mechanic ought to know how nearly everything is made.
Starting a business in watches
I thought that I could build a serviceable watch for around thirty cents and nearly started in the business. But I did not because I figured out that watches were not universal necessities, and therefore people generally would not buy them. Just how I reached that surprising conclusion I am unable to state. I did not like the ordinary jewelry and watch making work excepting where the job was hard to do.
From a specialised machine in the farm to something universal on the roads
I found eventually that people were more interested in something that would travel on the road than in something that would do the work on the farms. In fact, I doubt that the light farm tractor could have been introduced on the farm had not the farmer had his eyes opened slowly but surely by the automobile.
Experimenting and abandoning the idea
To make it even reasonably safe required an excess of weight that nullified the economy of the high pressure. For two years I kept experimenting with various sorts of boilers the engine and control problems were simple enough and then I definitely abandoned the whole idea of running a road vehicle by steam.
But did not give up and kept his day job
But I did not give up the idea of a horseless carriage. The work with the Westinghouse representative only served to confirm the opinion I had formed that steam was not suitable for light vehicles. That is why I stayed only a year with that company.
All the wise people demonstrated conclusively that the engine could not compete with steam. They never thought that it might carve out a career for itself. That is the way with wise people they are so wise and practical that they always know to a dot just why something cannot be done; they always know the limitations. That is why I never employ an expert in full bloom. If ever I wanted to kill opposition by unfair means I would endow the opposition with experts. They would have so much good advice that I could be sure they would do little work.
Possibly the most reassuring sentence in the spirit of doing your life’s work
and when I was not cutting timber I was working on the gas engines learning what they were and how they acted. I read everything I could find, but the greatest knowledge came from the work. A gas engine is a mysterious sort of thing it will not always go the way it should. You can imagine how those first engines acted!
Huh! Like Tesla - work is never a sacrfice
I cannot say that it was hard work. No work with interest is ever hard. I always am certain of results. They always come if you work hard enough.
In any exciting field there will always be tonnes of people and an engineering problem
I had to work from the ground up that is, although I knew that a number of people were working on horseless carriages, I could not know what they were doing. The hardest problems to overcome were in the making and breaking of the spark and in the avoidance of excess weight.
Nearly all of these various features had been planned in advance. That is the way I have always worked. I draw a plan and work out every detail on the plan before starting to build.
Along with design it is materials, adjustments that are equally important
Many inventors fail because they do not distinguish between planning and experimenting. The largest building difficulties that I had were in obtaining the proper materials. The next were with tools. There had to be some adjustments and changes in details of the design, but what held me up most was that I had neither the time nor the money to search for the best material for each part.
The first prototype - always a nuisance, but important nonetheless
My “gasoline buggy” was the first and for a long time the only automobile in Detroit. It was considered to be something of a nuisance, for it made a racket and it scared horses. Also it blocked traffic. For if I stopped my machine anywhere in town a crowd was around it before I could start up again.
First sale, to propell the next model / experiment
That was my first sale. I had built the car not to sell but only to experiment with. I wanted to start another car. Ainsley wanted to buy. I could use the money and we had no trouble in agreeing upon a price.
Define what’s important
I was working for lightness; the foreign makers have never seemed to appreciate what light weight means.
Keeping the day job
During all this time I kept my position with the electric company and gradually advanced to chief engineer at a salary of one hundred and twenty-five dollars a month.
Being true to yourself
The Edison Company offered me the general superintendency of the company but only on condition that I would give up my gas engine and devote myself to something really useful. **I had to choose between my job and my automobile. I chose the automobile, or rather I gave up the job there was really nothing in the way of a choice. For already I knew that the car was bound to be a success. ** I quit my job on August 15, 1899, and went into the automobile business.
Experimenting even before the age
It might be thought something of a step, for I had no personal funds. What money was left over from living was all used in experimenting. But my wife agreed that the automobile could not be given up that we had to make or break. There was no “demand” for automobiles there never is for a new article.
Advent of any technology starts with being a toy
At first the “horseless carriage” was considered merely a freak notion and many wise people explained with particularity why it could never be more than a toy.
The customer never knows which characteristic is the most important
When it was found that an automobile really could go and several makers started to put out cars, the immediate query was as to which would go fastest. It was a curious but natural development that racing idea. I never thought anything of racing, but the public refused to consider the automobile in any light other than as a fast toy. Therefore later we had to race.
Racing for cars - short-sightedness or unknowing of what’s to come
The industry was held back by this initial racing slant, for the attention of the makers was diverted to making fast rather than good cars. It was a business for speculators.
Iteration after iteration
From the period of the first car, which I have described, until the formation of my present company I built in all about twenty-five cars, of which nineteen or twenty were built with the Detroit Automobile Company.
Work + manufacturing is more important than financing
The most surprising feature of business as it was conducted was the large attention given to finance and the small attention to service. That seemed to me to be reversing the natural process which is that the money should come as the result of work and not before the work. The second feature was the general indifference to better methods of manufacture as long as whatever was done got by and took the money.
Capitalisation on locked-in features - isn’t what companies still do?
It was considered good business to sell parts at the highest possible price on the theory that, since the man had already bought the car, he simply had to have the part and would be willing to pay for it.
Hilarious how little things have changed in a 100 years
Business men believed that you could do anything by “financing” it. If it did not go through on the first financing then the idea was to “refinance.” The process of “refinancing” was simply the game of sending good money after bad. In the majority of cases the need of refinancing arises from bad management, and the effect of refinancing is simply to pay the poor managers to keep up their bad management a little longer.
Differentiating when money is being put to good use or not
Thus, the speculative financiers delude themselves that they are putting their money out to use. They are not; they are putting it out to waste. I determined absolutely that never would I join a company in which finance came before the work or in which bankers or financiers had a part.
After buy service
A manufacturer is not through with his customer when a sale is completed. He has then only started with his customer. In the case of an automobile the sale of the machine is only something in the nature of an introduction. If the machine does not give service, then it is better for the manufacturer if he never had the introduction, for he will have the worst of all advertisements a dissatisfied customer.
Retire and relax one day or keep working?
And also I noticed a tendency among many men in business to feel that their lot was hard they worked against a day when they might retire and live on an income get out of the strife. Life to them was a battle to be ended as soon as possible. That was another point I could not understand, for as I reasoned, life is not a battle except with our own tendency to sag with the downpull of “getting settled.” If to petrify is success all one has to do is to humour the lazy side of the mind but if to grow is success, then one must wake up anew every morning and keep awake all day.
Change is permanence
Life, as I see it, is not a location, but a journey. Even the man who most feels himself “settled” is not settled he is probably sagging back. Everything is in flux, and was meant to be. Life flows. We may live at the same number of the street, but it is never the same man who lives there.
Love for regularity vs embracing change
And out of the delusion that life is a battle that may be lost by a false move grows, I have noticed, a great love for regularity… Business men go down with their businesses because they like the old way so well they cannot bring themselves to change.
Danger of settling down
There is a subtle danger in a man thinking that he is “fixed” for life. It indicates that the next jolt of the wheel of progress is going to fling him off.
Work before before
And the most curious part of it all was the insistence that it was the money and not the work that counted. It did not seem to strike any one as illogical that money should be put ahead of work even though everyone had to admit that the profit had to come from the work.
Competition and work
man who does his work; time spent in fighting competition is wasted; it had better be spent in doing the work. There are always enough people ready and anxious to buy, provided you supply what they want and at the proper price and this applies to personal services as well as to goods.
Not possible to drop work even at night
I had plenty of time, for I never left my business. I do not believe a man can ever leave his business. He ought to think of it by day and dream of it by night. It is nice to plan to do one’s work in office hours, to take up the work in the morning, to drop it in the evening and not have a care until the next morning. It is perfectly possible to do that if one is so constituted as to be willing through all of his life to accept direction, to be an employee, possibly a responsible employee, but not a director or manager of anything… The man who has the largest capacity for work and thought is the man who is bound to succeed.
on one model
Standardization (to use the word as I understand it) is not just taking one’s best selling article and concentrating on it. It is planning day and night and probably for years, first on something which will best suit the public and then on how it should be made. The exact processes of manufacturing will develop of themselves.
Ford Motor Company was founded after years of experimentation
The “999” did what it was intended to do: It advertised the fact that I could build a fast motorcar. A week after the race I formed the Ford Motor Company. I was vice-president, designer, master mechanic, superintendent, and general manager.
Process of making beyond the product
In making my designs I had also worked out the methods of making, but, since at that time we could not afford to buy machinery, the entire car was made according to my designs, but by various manufacturers, and about all we did, even in the way of assembling, was to put on the wheels, the tires, and the body.
I had been experimenting principally upon the cutting down of weight. Excess weight kills any self-propelled vehicle.
Strength != Weight
Strength has nothing to do with weight. The mentality of the man who does things in the world is agile, light, and strong. The most beautiful things in the world are those from which all excess weight has been eliminated. Strength is never just weight either in men or things.
Pleasure vs Utility
We did not make the pleasure appeal. We never have. In its first advertising we showed that a motor car was a utility. We said: We often hear quoted the old proverb, “Time is money” and yet how few business and professional men act as if they really believed its truth.
Early year 2 of Ford Motors
In the second year we scattered our energies among three models. We made a four-cylinder touring car, “Model B,” which sold for two thousand dollars; “Model C,” which was a slightly improved “Model A” and sold at fifty dollars more than the former price; and “Model F,” a touring car which sold for a thousand dollars. That is, we scattered our energy and increased prices and therefore we sold fewer cars than in the first year. The sales were 1,695 cars.
Working with money and cash
Since the first year we have practically always had plenty of money. We sold for cash, we did not borrow money, and we sold directly to the purchaser. We had no bad debts and we kept within ourselves on every move. I have always kept well within my resources. I have never found it necessary to strain them, because, inevitably, if you give attention to work and service, the resources will increase more rapidly than you can devise ways and means of disposing of them.
Difference with other companies
Our automobile was less complex than any other. We had no outside money in the concern. But aside from these two points we did not differ materially from the other automobile companies, excepting that we had been somewhat more successful and had rigidly pursued the policy of taking all cash discounts, putting our profits back into the business, and maintaining a large cash balance.
Progress upon progress
The temptation to stop and hang on to what one has is quite natural. I can entirely sympathize with the desire to quit a life of activity and retire to a life of ease. I have never felt the urge myself but I can comprehend what it is although I think that a man who retires ought entirely to get out of a business. There is a disposition to retire and retain control. It was, however, no part of my plan to do anything of that sort. I regarded our progress merely as an invitation to do more as an indication that we had reached a place where we might begin to perform a real service.
In search of vanadium
After the wreck I picked up a little valve strip stem. It was very light and very strong. I asked what it was made of. Nobody knew. I gave the stem to my assistant. “Find out all about this,” I told him. “That is the kind of material we ought to have in our cars.” He found eventually that it was a French steel and that there was vanadium in it.
Exhaustive methodical experiment on steel
Having vanadium in hand I pulled apart our models and tested in detail to determine what kind of steel was best for every part whether we wanted a hard steel, a tough steel, or an elastic steel. We, for the first time I think, in the history of any large construction, determined scientifically the exact quality of the steel. As a result we then selected twenty different types of steel for the various steel parts.
The less complex an article, the easier it is to make, the cheaper it may be sold, and therefore the greater number may be sold.
Such confidence backed up by decades of thorough work
The “Model T” had practically no features which were not contained in some one or other of the previous models. Every detail had been fully tested in practice. There was no guessing as to whether or not it would be a successful model. It had to be. There was no way it could escape being so, for it had not been made in a day.
Optimising manufacturing line
The first step forward in assembly came when we began taking the work to the men instead of the men to the work … The net result of the application of these principles is the reduction of the necessity for thought on the part of the worker and the reduction of his movements to a minimum. He does as nearly as possible only one thing with only one movement.
Improvement by almost half the time taken in 6 months
In October, 1913, it required nine hours and fifty-four minutes of labour time to assemble one motor; six months later, by the moving assembly method, this time had been reduced to five hours and fifty-six minutes. Every piece of work in the shops moves
None of our men are “experts.” We have most unfortunately found it necessary to get rid of a man as soon as he thinks himself an expert because no one ever considers himself expert if he really knows his job. A man who knows a job sees so much more to be done than he has done, that he is always pressing forward and never gives up an instant of thought to how good and how efficient he is… The moment one gets into the “expert” state of mind a great number of things become impossible.
There is no manual handling of material. There is not a single hand operation. If a machine can be made automatic, it is made automatic.
Tradition of changing to be better
We fortunately did not inherit any traditions and we are not founding any. If we have a tradition it is this: Everything can always be done better than it is being done.
Therefore, in spite of the great mass of men, the difficulty is not to discover men to advance, but men who are willing to be advanced.
Repetition - scary or a blessing?
Repetitive labour the doing of one thing over and over again and always in the same way is a terrifying prospect to a certain kind of mind. It is terrifying to me. I could not possibly do the same thing day in and day out, but to other minds, perhaps I might say to the majority of minds, repetitive operations hold no terrors.
Bureacracy and admin
A great administration building may be necessary. In me it arouses a suspicion that perhaps there is too much administration. We have never found a need for elaborate administration and would prefer to be advertised by our product than by where we make our product.
Optmism on the cost of tomorrow
How far we shall thus reach back to sources depends entirely on circumstances. Nobody anywhere can really do more than guess about the future costs of production. It is wiser to recognize that the future holds more than the past that every day holds within it an improvement on the methods of the day before.
Progress and employment
The stage-coach drivers lost their jobs with the coming of the railways. Should we have prohibited the railways and kept the stage-coach drivers? Were there more men working with the stage-coaches than are working on the railways?
Hand-made industry to manufacturing industry
The coming of shoe machinery closed most of the shops of those who made shoes by hand. When shoes were made by hand, only the very well-to-do could own more than a single pair of shoes, and most working people went barefooted in summer. Now, hardly any one has only one pair of shoes, and shoe making is a great industry. No, every time you can so arrange that one man will do the work of two, you so add to the wealth of the country that there will be a new and better job for the man who is displaced.
Sounds like premature investing
We are not against borrowing money and we are not against bankers. We are against trying to make borrowed money take the place of work. We are against the kind of banker who regards a business as a melon to be cut. The thing is to keep money and borrowing and finance generally in their proper place, and in order to do that one has to consider exactly for what the money is needed and how it is going to be paid off. Money is only a tool in business. It is just a part of the machinery.
Another round of modern-day funding?
Borrowing for expansion is one thing; borrowing to make up for mismanagement and waste is quite another.
Borrow when you don’t need it
The time for a business man to borrow money, if ever, is when he does not need it. That is, when he does not need it as a substitute for the things he ought himself to do.
Better to sell more
My financial policy is the result of my sales policy. I hold that it is better to sell a large number of articles at a small profit than to sell a few at a large profit. This enables a larger number of people to buy and it gives a larger number of men employment at good wages.
Bankers and lawyers can rarely appreciate this fact. They confuse inertia with stability. It is perfectly beyond their comprehension that the price should ever voluntarily be reduced. That is why putting the usual type of banker or lawyer into the management of a business is courting disaster.
Reduce price without quality
Bear in mind, every time you reduce the price of the car without reducing the quality, you increase the possible number of purchasers.
Large amount of cash in bank - sounds like modern-day Apple?
It has been our policy always to keep on hand a large amount of cash the cash balance in recent years has usually been in excess of fifty million dollars.
Keeping for emergency
we do not borrow but we have established lines of credit, so that if we so cared we might raise a very large amount of money by bank borrowing. But keeping the cash reserve makes borrowing unnecessary our provision is only to be prepared to meet an emergency. I have no prejudice against proper borrowing.
Always moving inventory
We can no more afford to carry large stocks of finished than we can of raw material. Everything has to move in and move out.
Investing » Saving
To teach a child to invest and use is better than to teach him to save. Most men who are laboriously saving a few dollars would do better to invest those few dollars first in themselves, and then in some useful work. Eventually they would have more to save. Young men ought to invest rather than save.
Using machines to lift the drudgery
Farming in the old style is rapidly fading into a picturesque memory. This does not mean that work is going to remove from the farm. Work cannot be removed from any life that is productive. But power-farming does mean this drudgery is going to be removed from the farm. Power-farming is simply taking the burden from flesh and blood and putting it on steel.
Philanthropy and Self-reliance
Philanthropy, no matter how noble its motive, does not make for self-reliance. We must have self-reliance. A community is the better for being discontented, for being dissatisfied with what it has.
The best instructors obtainable are on the staff, and the text-book is the Ford plant. It offers more resources for practical education than most universities. The arithmetic lessons come in concrete shop problems. No longer is the boy’s mind tortured with the mysterious A who can row four miles while B is rowing two.
Success > Failure
They see the successes that men have made and somehow they appear to be easy. But that is a world away from the facts. It is failure that is easy. Success is always hard. A man can fail in ease; he can succeed only by paying out all that he has and is. It is this which makes success so pitiable a thing if it be in lines that are not useful and uplifting.
Lead not by the domain-knowledge expert… some things have not changed?
Too many railroads are run, not from the offices of practical men, but from banking offices, and the principles of procedure, the whole outlook, are financial not transportational, but financial.
Meeting Edison :)
But being in the same room with Edison suggested to me that it would be a good idea to find out if the master of electricity thought it was going to be the only power in the future. So, after Mr. Edison had finished his address, I managed to catch him alone for a moment. I told him what I was working on.
Such was my first meeting with Edison. I did not see him again until many years after until our motor had been developed and was in production. He remembered perfectly our first meeting. Since then we have seen each other often. He is one of my closest friends, and we together have swapped many an idea. His knowledge is almost universal. He is interested in every conceivable subject and he recognizes no limitations.
Edison not a businessman?
Edison is easily the world’s greatest scientist. I am not sure that he is not also the world’s worst business man. He knows almost nothing of business.
Development by foreign exploiters… till today
You can &&never develop Mexico until you develop the Mexican**. And yet how much of the “development” of Mexico by foreign exploiters ever took account of the development of its people?
The object of education is not to fill a man’s mind with facts; it is to teach him how to use his mind in thinking. And it often happens that a man can think better if he is not hampered by the knowledge of the past.
Thinking is the hardest work any one can do which is probably the reason why we have so few thinkers. There are two extremes to be avoided: one is the attitude of contempt toward education, the other is the tragic snobbery of assuming that marching through an educational system is a sure cure for ignorance and mediocrity.
There are two fools in this world. One is the millionaire who thinks that by hoarding money he can somehow accumulate real power, and the other is the penniless reformer who thinks that if only he can take the money from one class and give it to another, all the world’s ills will be cured. They are both on the wrong track.
Basis of all our work:
Work will always be challenging
Work that amounts to anything will never be easy. And the higher you go in the scale of responsibility, the harder becomes the job. Ease has its place, of course. Every man who works ought to have sufficient leisure.
Routine and alive
They come only after hard work; it is the fellow who can stand the gaff of routine and still keep himself alive and alert who finally gets into direction.