Here’s a post by Tom Ehrenfeld, a friend of the Lean Blog. He writes about a book from 2004, “Wheels for the World” by Douglas Brinkley. Looking at Ford in the 1910’s (the good ole’ days), Brinkley wrote:
“.. it was the creation of an atmosphere in which improvement was the real product: a better, cheaper, Model T followed naturally. Every man on the payroll was invited to contribute ideas, and the good ones were implemented without delay.””
Wow, that sounds like kaizen and continuous improvement. In the 1910’s. No wonder Toyota gives credit to Henry Ford for giving them many of the concepts that became the Toyota Production System. So when people ask “why didn’t Ford adopt lean?”, maybe the question is “why did they get away from lean??”
Update: The NY Times has an article very similar to today’s WSJ article that dumps on the “non-lean automakers” (my term, not theirs). The NYT also dug up an old Henry Ford quote that sounds very much like TPS:
“In his 1930 book, “Moving Forward,” Henry Ford wrote that companies were often bedeviled by “the little things that are hard to see â€” the awkward little methods that have grown up and which no one notices.”
Eliminating those tiny wasteful practices, he wrote, could make a big difference between success and failure.”
The student (Toyota) has surpassed its sensei (Ford).
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