INTRODUCTION – WHAT IS THE IDEA?

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We have only started on our development of our country – we have not as yet, with all our talk of wonderful progress, done more than scratch the surface. The progress has been wonderful enough – but when we compare what we have done with what there is to do, then our past accomplishments are as nothing. When we consider that more power is used merely in ploughing the soil than is used read more

CHAPTER I. THE BEGINNING OF BUSINESS

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On May 31, 1921, the Ford Motor Company turned out Car No. 5,000,000. It is out in my museum along with the gasoline buggy that I began work on thirty years before and which first ran satisfactorily along in the spring of 1893. I was running it when the bobolinks came to Dearborn and they always come on April 2nd. There is all the difference in the world in the appearance of the two vehicles and almost as much difference in construction and materials, but in fundamentals read more

CHAPTER II. WHAT I LEARNED ABOUT BUSINESS

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My „gasoline buggy” was the first and for a long time the only automobile in Detroit. It was considered to be something of a nuisance, for it made a racket and it scared horses. Also it blocked traffic. For if I stopped my machine anywhere in town a crowd was around it before I could start up again. If I left it alone even for a minute some inquisitive person always tried to run it. Finally, I had to carry a chain and chain it to a lamp post whenever read more

CHAPTER III. STARTING THE REAL BUSINESS

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In the little brick shop at 81 Park Place I had ample opportunity to work out the design and some of the methods of manufacture of a new car. Even if it were possible to organize the exact kind of corporation that I wanted – one in which doing the work well and suiting the public would be controlling factors – it became apparent that I never could produce a thoroughly good motor car that might be sold at a low price under the existing cut-and-try manufacturing methods.

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CHAPTER IV. THE SECRET OF MANUFACTURING AND SERVING

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Now I am not outlining the career of the Ford Motor Company for any personal reason. I am not saying: „Go thou and do likewise.” What I am trying to emphasize is that the ordinary way of doing business is not the best way. I am coming to the point of my entire departure from the ordinary methods. From this point dates the extraordinary success of the company.

We had been fairly following the custom of the trade. Our automobile was less complex than any read more

CHAPTER V. GETTING INTO PRODUCTION

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If a device would save in time just 10 per cent. or increase results 10 per cent., then its absence is always a 10 per cent. tax. If the time of a person is worth fifty cents an hour, a 10 per cent. saving is worth five cents an hour. If the owner of a skyscraper could increase his income 10 per cent., he would willingly pay half the increase just to know how. The reason why he owns a skyscraper is that science has proved that certain materials, used in a given read more

CHAPTER VI. MACHINES AND MEN

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That which one has to fight hardest against in bringing together a large number of people to do work is excess organization and consequent red tape. To my mind there is no bent of mind more dangerous than that which is sometimes described as the „genius for organization.” This usually results in the birth of a great big chart showing, after the fashion of a family tree, how authority ramifies. The tree is heavy with nice round berries, each of which read more

CHAPTER VII. THE TERROR OF THE MACHINE

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Repetitive labour – the doing of one thing over and over again and always in the same way – is a terrifying prospect to a certain kind of mind. It is terrifying to me. I could not possibly do the same thing day in and day out, but to other minds, perhaps I might say to the majority of minds, repetitive operations hold no terrors. In fact, to some types of mind thought is absolutely appalling. To them the ideal job is one where the creative instinct need read more

CHAPTER VIII. WAGES

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There is nothing to running a business by custom – to saying: „I pay the going rate of wages.” The same man would not so easily say: „I have nothing better or cheaper to sell than any one has.” No manufacturer in his right mind would contend that buying only the cheapest materials is the way to make certain of manufacturing the best article. Then why do we hear so much talk about the „liquidation of labour” and the benefits read more

CHAPTER IX. WHY NOT ALWAYS HAVE GOOD BUSINESS?

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The employer has to live by the year. The workman has to live by the year. But both of them, as a rule, work by the week. They get an order or a job when they can and at the price they can. During what is called a prosperous time, orders and jobs are plentiful. During a „dull” season they are scarce. Business is always either feasting or fasting and is always either „good” or „bad.” Although there is never a time when everyone read more

CHAPTER X. HOW CHEAPLY CAN THINGS BE MADE?

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No one will deny that if prices are sufficiently low, buyers will always be found, no matter what are supposed to be the business conditions. That is one of the elemental facts of business. Sometimes raw materials will not move, no matter how low the price. We have seen something of that during the last year, but that is because the manufacturers and the distributors were trying to dispose of high-cost stocks before making new engagements. The markets were stagnant, read more

CHAPTER XI. MONEY AND GOODS

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The primary object of a manufacturing business is to produce, and if that objective is always kept, finance becomes a wholly secondary matter that has largely to do with bookkeeping. My own financial operations have been very simple. I started with the policy of buying and selling for cash, keeping a large fund of cash always on hand, taking full advantage of all discounts, and collecting interest on bank balances. I regard a bank principally as a place in which read more

CHAPTER XII. MONEY – MASTER OR SERVANT?

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In December, 1920, business the country over was marking time. More automobile plants were closed than were open and quite a number of those which were closed were completely in the charge of bankers. Rumours of bad financial condition were afloat concerning nearly every industrial company, and I became interested when the reports persisted that the Ford Motor Company not only needed money but could not get it. I have become accustomed to all kinds of rumours about read more

CHAPTER XIII. WHY BE POOR?

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Poverty springs from a number of sources, the more important of which are controllable. So does special privilege. I think it is entirely feasible to abolish both poverty and special privilege – and there can be no question but that their abolition is desirable. Both are unnatural, but it is work, not law, to which we must look for results.

By poverty I mean the lack of reasonably sufficient food, housing, and clothing for an individual or a family. There will read more

CHAPTER XIV. THE TRACTOR AND POWER FARMING

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It is not generally known that our tractor, which we call the „Fordson,” was put into production about a year before we had intended, because of the Allies’ war-time food emergency, and that all of our early production (aside, of course, from the trial and experimental machines) went directly to England. We sent in all five thousand tractors across the sea in the critical 1917-18 period when the submarines were busiest. Every one of them arrived safely, read more

CHAPTER XV. WHY CHARITY?

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Why should there by any necessity for almsgiving in a civilized community? It is not the charitable mind to which I object. Heaven forbid that we should ever grow cold toward a fellow creature in need. Human sympathy is too fine for the cool, calculating attitude to take its place. One can name very few great advances that did not have human sympathy behind them. It is in order to help people that every notable service is undertaken.

The trouble is that we have been read more

CHAPTER XVI. THE RAILROADS

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Nothing in this country furnishes a better example of how a business may be turned from its function of service than do the railroads. We have a railroad problem, and much learned thought and discussion have been devoted to the solution of that problem. Everyone is dissatisfied with the railways. The public is dissatisfied because both the passenger and freight rates are too high. The railroad employees are dissatisfied because they say their wages are too low and read more

CHAPTER XVII. THINGS IN GENERAL

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No man exceeds Thomas A. Edison in broad vision and understanding. I met him first many years ago when I was with the Detroit Edison Company – probably about 1887 or thereabouts. The electrical men held a convention at Atlantic City, and Edison, as the leader in electrical science, made an address. I was then working on my gasoline engine, and most people, including all of my associates in the electrical company, had taken pains to tell me that time spent read more

CHAPTER XVIII. DEMOCRACY AND INDUSTRY

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Perhaps no word is more overworked nowadays than the word „democracy,” and those who shout loudest about it, I think, as a rule, want it least. I am always suspicious of men who speak glibly of democracy. I wonder if they want to set up some kind of a despotism or if they want to have somebody do for them what they ought to do for themselves. I am for the kind of democracy that gives to each an equal chance according to his ability. I think if we give read more

CHAPTER XIX. WHAT WE MAY EXPECT

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We are – unless I do not read the signs aright – in the midst of a change. It is going on all about us, slowly and scarcely observed, but with a firm surety. We are gradually learning to relate cause and effect. A great deal of that which we call disturbance – a great deal of the upset in what have seemed to be established institutions – is really but the surface indication of something approaching a regeneration. The public point of view read more