Sixty-six years after his death Henry Ford’s life and legacy continue to be scrutinized, debated and an ongoing topic for historians, numerous books and just recently a PBS documentary (http://video.pbs.org/video/2329934360/). Regardless of which opinion you hold on the man, his legacy, beliefs and the means he utilized to build the Ford Motor Company there is evidence to conclude the following — Along with many other contributing factors, Mr. Ford used the experiences of his own business failures to shape his vision, innovative and leadership beliefs.
Throughout Mr. Ford’s career & lifetime he remained a polarizing figure who was both revered for his business instincts and criticized for some of his personal views. One of the more recognizable and lasting Ford quotations remains extremely relevant to organizations today even as the Ford Motor Company celebrates its 110 year of being in business. Mr. Ford said:
“Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success”
Today’s organizations, much like the Ford Company of the early 1900’s are continuously required to incorporate technological advances, meet the challenges of rapidly changing business models, advance growth opportunities for employees and profitably provide products and services for the primary focus of the organization – it’s valued Customers! Mr. Ford’s famous comment underscores a central foundation to an organizations ability to achieve their unique business objectives and goals.
Mr. Ford’s statement is very simplistic and logical in approach that was derived in a different era of business. However, it still applies to organizations of the 21st century and business professionals are still faced with the challenge developing a Company culture that will embrace, achieve and sustain this key organizational characteristic. Organizations that successfully develop the ability to work together (aka: Teamwork) will distinguish their products & services, create growth opportunities and solidify the long term stability and strength of the organization. Those that don’t could very possibly go the way of the Edsel (Note: if you don’t recognize this name Google it).
Successful organizations that have generated a consistently high level of Teamwork have constructed and sustained a Company Culture utilizing a number of different and effective methods. If there were a standardized “roadmap” to this ongoing business challenge, every organization should or would adopt these practices. Regardless of how an organization achieves this success they will most likely have incorporated the following core characteristics into their approach:
- Consistency: Defining a clear vision and/or common goal(s) for everyone in the organization to drive towards.
- Trust: In yourself, fellow employees, team, management and the Organization to do the right thing.
- Accountability: Recognition and requirement that the actions of all employees should be meaningful, significant and contribute to the organization meeting objectives.
- Priority: Ensuring everyone shares the same sense of importance & priority in accomplishing the task at hand.
- Effort: All employees are accountable to achieving the business objectives and their contributions should be consistent with others.
- Proper skill set: Ensuring employees and teams have the tools, required training and skills to perform the job responsibilities to the best of their ability.
- Communication: Clear, concise, frank, and at a consistent professional level. Most importantly, understanding communication is not a static event but more fluid and has an absolute requirement to be ongoing. This includes listening.
- Simplicity: Whenever possible take the most logical and common sense approach to accomplishing tasks and meeting challenges. Don’t over complicate the actions and make sure there is a clear understanding throughout the Organization.
- Respect: For yourself, fellow workers, Customers and the opportunities & challenges the Organization faces.
The lessons and insights gained from Henry Ford’s experience in both failure and success still have applicability in today’s rapidly advancing technological world. Even though he will more than likely remain a divisive, polarizing and debated icon of business the insights gained are worth understanding.
An Organization of engaged employees …working together for success… is an essential foundation to establish in any company’s culture. The ability to take advantage of opportunities and continuing to address the challenges while consistently providing exceptional products and services to the Customer remains the challenge.