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Patrick J. Southam
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle
My Life and Work by automotive pioneer Henry Ford is a combination of memoir and philosophical treatise. This book gives us not only Mr. Ford's reminiscences of creating his first automobiles and the Ford Motor Company, it also gives us his thoughts on business, labor, production, finance, ecology, money, railroads, farming, government, war, and humanity. It is a good read for those who are fans of automobiles, history, and (auto)biography. I read this as an e-book on my kindle device.
Ford doesn't spend words describing his childhood, but instead starts his story with a brief description of himself as a farm boy who liked to tinker with machinery. Mechanical aptitude allowed him to move off the family farm and take a job with the Detroit Edison electric company. That job allowed him time to work on horseless carriages. Soon, the Ford Motor Company was birthed.
Amazingly, by sticking with one model, the "T", Ford was able to year after year drop the price, while still making a profit. Chapter X, "How Cheaply Can Things Be Made?" describes his philosophy behind this. It is interesting that in our modern world, while the prices of many products do go down once they become widely adopted, new automobiles do not seem to be in that category any longer. It came as a surprise to me when Ford wrote about producing just enough component parts and having them delivered to the assembly points at the time they were needed. I first heard of this manufacturing idea about twenty or thirty years ago in an article about the Japanese automakers and their "just in time" production philosophy to keep costs down, and how that should be adopted by the American car companies. It is certainly obvious that the Japanese read Ford's book.
While it is pretty well known that Ford did not invent the assembly line for manufacturing, he did put it to large-scale use. His memoir tells quite a bit about early time-and-motion studies, workers doing repetitive jobs, and jobs that people with disabilities were able to do in his factories. Ford's thoughts on these topics are interesting. As I read these, I did have to remind myself not to apply twenty-first century knowledge to early twentieth century practices. As with all human knowledge, we now build upon what we have learned from predecessors, and they just did not know everything that we know now.
Many automakers competed in racing, giving rise to the saying "win on Sunday, sell on Monday". Henry Ford seems to have built high-speed autos reluctantly. This was another surprise.
Here are two quotes that also took me by surprise, coming from a captain of early twentieth century industry: "A country becomes great when, by the wise development of its resources and the skill of its people, property is widely and fairly distributed." "The human race cannot forever exist half-exploiter and half-exploited." Interesting quotes in this election year, and any time.
After reading this memoir, I still do not know enough about the man to decide if I like him or not. I wonder if he and Will Rogers ever met? I do believe Ford was a very interesting man, and this book should be read by anyone in business.