Driving Honda: Inside the World's Most Innovative Car by Jeffrey Rothfeder

By Jeffrey Rothfeder

For a long time there were iconic jap vehicle businesses. One has been without end studied and written approximately. the opposite has been ordinarily underappreciated and misunderstood. till now.

on account that its delivery as a bike corporation in 1949, Honda has gradually grown into the world’s 5th biggest automaker and best engine producer, in addition to some of the most cherished, so much ecocnomic, and so much continually cutting edge multinational firms. What drives the corporate that retains growing and enhancing award-winning and bestselling versions just like the Civic, Accord, Odyssey, CR-V, and Pilot?

in accordance with Jeffrey Rothfeder, what actually distinguishes Honda from its opponents, particularly archrival Toyota, is a deep dedication to a collection of unorthodox administration tenets. The Honda approach, as insiders name it, is awesome for decentralization over company regulate, simplicity over complexity, experimentation over Six Sigma–driven potency, and unyielding cynicism towards the established order and no matter what is thought to be the reality. Honda believes in freely borrowing from the earlier as a bridge to “innovative discontinuity” within the current. and people are only many of the rules that the company’s colourful founder, Soichiro Honda, embedded within the DNA of his start-up sixty-five years ago.

because the first journalist allowed at the back of Honda’s infamously inner most doorways, Rothfeder interviewed dozens of executives, engineers, and frontline staff approximately its administration practices and worldwide technique. He indicates how the corporate has constructed and maintained its unrivaled tradition of innovation, resilience, and flexibility—and the way it exported that tradition to different nations which are strikingly various from Japan, developing in the neighborhood managed operations in each one quarter the place it lays down roots.

for example, Rothfeder experiences on lifestyles at a Honda manufacturing unit within the tiny city of Lincoln, Alabama, and what occurred while American employees have been proficient to persist with the Honda approach, as a self-sufficient outpost of the worldwide corporation. may they grasp Honda’s 3 middle principles:

  • Embrace Paradox: Honda encourages respectful confrontation and debate among opposing viewpoints, on concerns huge and small. New principles usually emerge from conflict.
  • Real position, actual half, actual Knowledge: Honda teaches humans to argue utilizing evidence, now not assumptions. One needs to visit the manufacturing facility flooring, the showroom, the car parking zone, the driver’s seat, or the truck bed—whatever it takes—to get the evidence and decide that may be supported with data.
  • Respect Individualism: Honda usually hires individuals with strange backgrounds and self reliant streaks. It promotes those that query the established order and who might most likely fight in businesses that target inflexible principles and systems.

Rothfeder exhibits how the Alabama plant turned a brand new version for production in the US. it will probably end up a number of sorts of automobiles on any given day and as much as 300,000 automobiles and engines a yr. Its versatile version permits remarkable responsiveness to industry adjustments and restoration from mistakes.

As Soichiro Honda himself cherished to assert, “Success might be completed purely via repeated failure and introspection. in reality, luck represents one percentage of your paintings, which ends basically from the ninety-nine percentage that's known as failure.”

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By those criteria, Lincoln was perfect. Before Honda arrived it was a sleepy flatland, left behind years earlier by farmers and defense factories, barely a pit stop on east–west I-20 between Birmingham and Atlanta. Even now, with a world-class automobile factory in its midst, Lincoln is easy to pass by without noticing; it has a few fast-food places to get a bite—Waffle House, Taco Bell, and Burger King—and a couple of franchise motels, like Days Inn and Econo Lodge. But no signs trumpet the Honda factory on the highway or anywhere in town.

There’s almost nothing about Honda’s unorthodox DNA that hasn’t been informed by the skepticism and curiosity—by the unpacking and then reassembling of knowledge and information—that characterizes the best of the engineering discipline. However, there is a downside to this: engineer CEOs are not, generally, inspiring or motivating public speakers. That’s where having a more traditional sales or marketing background, in which communication skills are necessarily honed to try to persuade people to buy your product, is a distinct advantage.

And they told the state’s industrial development officials that they wanted a site at which they could work unobserved and inconspicuously. By those criteria, Lincoln was perfect. Before Honda arrived it was a sleepy flatland, left behind years earlier by farmers and defense factories, barely a pit stop on east–west I-20 between Birmingham and Atlanta. Even now, with a world-class automobile factory in its midst, Lincoln is easy to pass by without noticing; it has a few fast-food places to get a bite—Waffle House, Taco Bell, and Burger King—and a couple of franchise motels, like Days Inn and Econo Lodge.

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