More on ‘My life and work’ by Henry Ford

Further to my earlier post about My life and work by Henry Ford:

The more I read this book the more it amazes me and makes me admire Henry Ford! Even before the field of Management evolved to its current relatively mature state, Henry Ford thought about and wrote about almost all aspects of it – Human Resource, Finance, Organizational Culture, Economics, Operations Management, Change Management, Strategy, Corporate Social Responsibility et al.

I’m reproducing here a few random pieces from the book ‘My life and work’:

“It ought to be the employer’s ambition, as leader, to pay better wages than any similar line of business, and it ought to be the workman’s ambition to make this possible”

“There is now a definite demand that the human side of business be elevated to a position of equal importance with the material side” (View this from the point of view of production line where automation reduces importance of labor)

“We are not against borrowing money and we are not against bankers. We are against trying to make borrowed money take the place of work. We are against the kind of banker who regards a business as a melon to be cut…Money is only a tool in business. It is just a part of the machinery. You might as well borrow 100,000 lathes as $100,000 if the trouble is inside your business. More lathes will not cure it; neither will more money. Only heavier doses of brains and thought and wise courage can cure. When it is done, the business will begin to make its own money, just as a repaired human body begins to make sufficient pure blood. “

“Borrowing for expansion is one thing; borrowing to make up for mismanagement and waste is quite another”

“The time for a business man to borrow money, if ever, is when he does not need it. That is, when he does not need it as a substitute for the things he ought himself to do”

“If it at any point a question between lowering wages or abolishing dividends, I would abolish dividends…It is bad financial policy to reduce wages because it reduces buying power. If one believes that leadership brings responsibility, then a part of that responsibility is in seeing that those whom one leads shall have an adequate opportunity to earn a living.”

“Profits belong in three places: they belong to the business- to keep it steady, progressive, and sound. They belong to the men who helped produce them. And they belong also, in part, to the public. A successful business is profitable to all three of these interests- planner, producer, and purchaser”

“I cannot too greatly emphasize that the very worst time to borrow money is when the banking people think that you need money.”

“…You will note that the financiers proposed to cure by lending money and not by bettering methods. They did not suggest putting in an engineer; they wanted to put in a treasurer. And that is the danger of having bankers in business. They think solely in terms of money. They think of factory as making money, not goods. They want to watch the money, not the efficiency of production.”

“…my objection to bankers has nothing to do with personalities. I am not against bankers as such. We stand very much in need of thoughtful men, skilled in finance. The world cannot go on without banking facilities. We have to have money. We have to have credit. Otherwise the fruits of production could not be exchanged. We have to have capital. Without it there could be no production. But whether we have based our banking and our credit on the right foundation is quite another matter”

“The present money system i
not going to be changed by speech-making or political sensationalism or economic experiment. It is going to change under the pressure of conditions- conditions that we cannot control and pressure that we cannot control. These conditions are now with us; that pressure is now upon us”

“Money, after all, is very simple. It is a part of our transportation system. It is a simple and direct method of conveying goods from one person to another”

“… But money should always be money. A foot is always twelve inches, but when is a dollar a dollar? If ton weights changed in the coal yard, and peck measures changed in the “grocery, and yard sticks were today 42 inches and tomorrow 33 inches (by some occult process called ‘exchange’) the people would mighty soon remedy that. When a dollar is not always a dollar, when the 100-cent dollar becomes the 65-cent dollar, and then the 50-cent dollar, and then the 47-cent dollar, as the good old American gold and silver dollars did, what is the use of yelling about ‘cheap money’, ‘depreciated money’? A dollar that stays 100 cents is as necessary as a pound that stays 16 ounces and a yard that stays 36 inches.”

“The wealth of the world neither consists in nor is adequately represented by the money of the world. Gold itself is not a valuable commodity.”

“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”

“Service can be based on altruism, but that sort of service is not usually the best. The sentimental trips up the practical”

“Why should there be any necessity for almsgiving in a civilized community? …It is easy to give, it is harder to make giving unnecessary.”

“I have no patience with professional charity, or with any sort of commercialized humanitarianism. The moment human helpfulness is systematized, organized, commercialized, and professionalized, the heart of it is extinguished, and it becomes a cold and clammy thing.”

~ Kaustubh

3 thoughts on “More on ‘My life and work’ by Henry Ford

Add yours

  1. wow…what a forward thinker…and it is so true about the money system…look at it today…and he hit bulls eye about bankers


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