Henry Ford: Vision for Success
“Henry Ford did not invent the automobile. He didn’t even invent the assembly line. But more than any other single individual, he was responsible for transforming the automobile from an invention of unknown utility into an innovation that profoundly shaped the 20th century and continues to affect our lives today.”
The statement above is taken directly from the official Henry Ford website, and one thing is clear from this quote. Henry Ford was an innovator, a man who thought outside the box and could see the big picture. This is the key quality with any innovator, the ability to see a picture that nobody else can see themselves. However Henry Ford was not born an innovator, it took many years for him to develop the characteristics that would enable him to change the world of automobiles forever.
The Legacy Begins…
It would be twenty five years before Henry Ford founded the Ford Motor Company when at 16 he left home in pursuit of his own career path. It was not easy as due to the difficulties in finding work he returned home in 1882. By 1891 he had married Clara Bryant and moved to Detroit where Henry had undertaken a job as a night engineer for the Edison Electric Company. Ford saw the employment as an opportunity to expand his knowledge, as at the time he did not know a great deal about electricity. Henry applied himself well during his time with the company, rapidly rising to chief engineer of the Illuminating Company, however instead of resting on his laurels he decided to pursue his real interest.
In 1896 Henry Ford’s experiments culminated with his self-propelled vehicle which he dubbed the Quadricycle. Following this design Ford followed it up with a second in 1898, coinciding with a demonstration of his greatest skills. Ford had a unique ability to articulate and transmit his vision to those around him in order to achieve his goals and realise his designs. This led Henry to embark on his biggest challenge to date – a company specialising in horseless carriages.
Every Success is born from Struggle
The problem however with this new venture was Ford’s obvious lack of knowledge when it came to running a business. Henry insisted on using a trial and error format to perfect his designs and business ethos, and as a result of this tactic failure was always going to present itself along the way. The new company collapsed, following this Henry created another however due to his persistence to learn through trial and error this company also fell apart. Henry decided to take even bigger risks with his designs and direction, turning his attention to building racing cars. These cars were a huge success and as a result attracted vast amounts of financial backers. This famously led to Henry finally incorporating his third automotive company, Ford Motor Company.
The Innovator and Ford Motor Company
One of Henry Ford’s most telling talents was his ability to attract and identify outstanding young people. In order to achieve his vision, Henry went out and hired a core of young men who believed in his ethos and had the same desire to make Ford Motor Company into one of the world’s great industrial enterprises. With this core of designers Henry managed to advance his vision in the direction of the Model T, which he described as a better, cheaper “motorcar for the great multitude.” The car was revealed to the country on October 1 1908. Needless to say the car was a massive success, it was easy to handle, operate and maintain which gave it massive appeal to customers. After moving the company to a new plant in Highland Park, Michigan, the company began a relentless drive to increase production and reduce the costs. In 1919 Henry Ford bought out all the other investors to become the sole owner of the world’s largest automobile company.
A Lasting Legacy
The ethos of hiring staff at Ford Motor Company has not become a faded principle in the years since Henry Ford created the Model T. The company has retained Henry’s desire to recruit the most hungry and innovative young people to lead the way with their production and assembly lines. The company led the way and provided models for production and assembly that are still used today through a variety of products. The engineering and manufacturing at Ford has never been as crucial as it is today with an increase in competition and a need to stay ahead of their competitors. Ford presents its engineering staff with tremendous opportunities to apply their own vision to their work, rewarding their innovation in the same manner Henry Ford did over one hundred years ago.
Henry Ford’s vision for innovation and thinking towards the future is embedded in the DNA of the company, his ability to identify the staff he believed would be able to achieve his grand designs has lasted throughout the years. If one thing is certain at Ford, it is that innovation breeds success. Not just for the company but for the individual who dares to step outside the box to achieve a greater vision that others dare not imagine.