Henry Ford creates a vision for the future

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Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again. This time more intelligently.

Founder of the Ford Motor Company, Henry Ford and his life is the ultimate illustration of the ‘American dream’. He became famous for changing the landscape of American industrialisation by offering high wages to workers for mass production of inexpensive goods. The company was known for pioneering affordable ‘horseless carriages’.

The path to such greatness however, was fraught with many a battle. He blew two chances with two backers and was instantly written off as a failure.

Ford falls in love with automobiles

From an early age, Henry loved to take things apart and put them back together again just to see how they worked. Especially adept at doing this with watches, neighbours and friends would bring him their broken watches to fix.

Ford first lay his eyes on the gas powered engine. He became so impassioned by the engine that he made it his life’s mission to develop a low cost automobile.

He worked at the Edison Illuminating Company at night and built the Quadricycle during the day. After spending ten years on its design, he showed it to lumber tycoon William H. Murphy and took him for a ride in his handcrafted automobile. By the time the ride was over, they were in business. However, the partnership lasted only a year because even though Ford could build cars, he couldn’t build them fast enough to meet market demands.

Ford and the Model T

After dabbling in racing – a strategic move to spread the word about him and his work – he worked on the Model A. He convinced Murphy to give him another chance. Ford did not like the interference of outsiders who had no knowledge of the benchmark he was trying to set and the design he was trying to perfect. When Murphy hired an external supervisor, it became the last straw and Murphy and Ford parted ways once again.

Undaunted by failure, he analysed the things that went wrong and identified their root cause. This time, to stay away from financiers who could mess with his mission, he came up with his own business model, management philosophy and the right to have the final word in all matters related to the company.

He outfitted every previous problem with a solution. This is how he thought of the moving assembly line that boosted efficiency and shaved dollars off the price of the car.

By instituting a $5 daily wage, he managed to keep his workers with the company and ensure their well-being.

Seventeen years passed since he first dreamt of the low-cost automobile, but he had finally struck gold and the orders came pouring in from all parts of the country.

Action Summary

  • Never give up on your vision even when things seem impossible

  • Don’t be afraid to break the rules

  • Look at problems as opportunities to begin again, this time more intelligently

  • Recognise the lessons in failure and continue working towards your dream

~ Amala Putrevu

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