Issue #33 What you can learn from Ford’s obsession

I have been busy building the content for the challenge coming up on November 9th. If you haven’t registered yet, be sure to do so: this will be fun, even if you are already on the path to building your machine.

In the process, I discovered a problem Ford had. It just happens to be a problem we see today…

Before Ford, a car factory was a big workshop where people would build cars. Car builders would get to know the whims of their customers and their deep-seated, hidden sales pain and create vehicles that would make customers happy.

Sound familiar?

Ford wanted efficient, repeatable operations, not a litany of new features and customizations that would drive up the cost and create work.

In his words:

“Salesmen always want to cater to whims instead of acquiring sufficient knowledge of their [own] product to be able to explain to the customer with the whim that [the product they are selling] will satisfy [the customer’s] every requirement…”

Ford 1909

So what did he do? He put his foot down. He created the policy that enabled the Ford Motor Company to double wages while reducing the number of hours in a shift.

This fantastic, groundbreaking policy?

“Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black.”

Ford 1909

He knew his customer. He knew that while a few people may insist on hot pink and others lime green, his customers would be thrilled with black.

As long as it was a car.

He defined his avatar, created a product, and designed a system to deliver it repeatedly.

Sound familiar?

And yeah, once he got good at black, he added new colors, new styles, and these days Ford has evolved beyond the Model T, but they still don’t make custom cars.

Your business should be a machine. It should produce repeatable results. That is the key to higher wages and fewer hours.


It’s so difficult, right?

I had a conversation with someone yesterday in the back of an SUV in Vegas. We were talking about transforming companies, and he responded that it sounds like a lot, that transformation sounded like work.

And, yeah, it is, sort of, but not really.

Building a business is work. But if you are caught in the spin cycle, you are already doing the work; you just aren’t making progress.

So what does it take to make progress?

It is a change of perception. It is doing different work. It is accepting that the hustle and the grind are not just not the only way; it isn’t the best way. Machine building isn’t more work; it is different work.

It is a change of perception. Now, I am going to have to travel to Virginia to help him transform his business.

From Around the Web

  • 🎅🏻 Um, useful? Either a pretty cool innovation and an example of how technology and business model design can create new and exciting opportunities for business and human connection or a complete waste of human effort. It’s Jolly, the Secret Santa app.
  • Wouldn’t you rather sleep on a bus? Apparently, the answer to that question is “yes” more often than you would imagine; in fact, it is a business. 

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