Henry Ford is reported to have offered $25,000 to anyone who would show him how to save a single nut and bolt on each automobile he made.

Without Henry Ford, our country would not be the America we know today. His obsession with reducing costs and improving productivity allowed him to build the first automobile that ordinary people could afford and led to the construction of a vast network of roads and highways that gave birth to today’s mobile society. It also set the stage for total quality management and continuous improvement programs that are prevalent in the automotive industry today. We would all be well advised to take a page from the lessons that the automotive industry has learned in recent years. An obsessive focus on the needs and wants of our customers allows us to become an indispensable part of their lives, but nothing is forever. Continuous improvement is expected in virtually every industry, and quality is the minimum requirement in today’s global economy. Leaders are those who significantly outperform the competition in every aspect of the business.

Industrialists vs. the rest of us

Industrialists are not capitalists.

Capitalists take risks. They see an opportunity, an unmet need, and then they bring resources to bear to solve the problem and make a profit.

Industrialists seek stability instead.

Industrialists work to take working systems and polish them, insulate them from risk, maximize productivity and extract the maximum amount of profit. Much of society’s wealth is due to the relentless march of productivity created by single-minded industrialists, particularly those that turned nascent industries (as Henry Ford did with cars) into efficient engines of profit.

Industrialists don’t mind government regulations if they write them, don’t particularly like competition or creativity or change. They are maximizers of the existing status quo.

Of course, they can’t abide humanity when it comes to work, because humanity is inconsistent and interested in things other than the last zero. The best employee is a robot that can be plugged into a wall.

The stock market rewards the single-minded industrialist with short-term applause and then the relentless desire for ever more of the same growth and productivity that got them applause yesterday.

Today’s industrialists define our economy, but they offer very little promise for tomorrow. They’ve long bought ads to polish their image, but mostly work to alter the culture in ways that will ensure they’ll get just a little bit more yield out of each of us. 64 ounce Coke, anyone?

As long as industrialists are measuring productivity, engaging in scientific management and focused on ROI and predictability, there will always be a gap between the dreams of those they interact with and the demands of their shareholders.

There are lots of ways to justify the work of industrialists, to point to the efficiencies and productivity they create. That doesn’t mean that we must aspire to nothing more.

Henry Ford según se dice ofreció 25.000 dólares a cualquiera que le demostrara como ahorrar una simple tuerca y perno en la fabricación de un automóvil

Sin Henry Ford, nuestro país no sería la América que conocemos hoy. Su obsesión por la reducción de costos y mejoras de la productividad fue lo que le permitió construir su primer automóvil y que la gente común pudiera adquirirlo a bajo costo, y esto, a su vez, llevó a la construcción de una vasta red de caminos y carreteras que dio origen a la sociedad móvil de hoy. También sentó las bases para la gestión de la calidad total y los programas de mejora continua que prevalecen en la industria automotriz hoy en día. A todos nos haría bien aprender de las lecciones que la industria del automóvil ha dejado en los últimos años. Este personaje nos demostró que tener un enfoque obsesivo en las necesidades y deseos de nuestros clientes nos permite ser una parte indispensable de sus vidas, pero nada es para siempre. La mejora continua se espera en casi todas las industrias, y la calidad es el requisito mínimo en la economía global de hoy. Los líderes son aquellos que superan significativamente la competencia en todos los aspectos del negocio.