Agile principles at Henry Ford’s book



  “The producer depends for his prosperity upon serving the people”.

    “As we serve our jobs we serve the world”

                                                                                                                           Henry Ford

I started to read Henry Ford’s book, My Life and Work, which was written together with Samuel Crowther. The book is quite interesting and besides talking about his success, he also describes other aspects of life that are much wider and useful.
Henry Ford, very popular and controversial, interestingly we had a similar experience with the death of our mothers, this really changes ours personally in some way. But his mother died when he was 13, this is really really difficult much more than 19, which was my case. I tend to admire some thought of his book and strongly disagree with others at the same time.

He was born in 1863 and died a bit after the world war, in 1947. It is amazing the fact that he worked for Thomas Alva Edison and met him personally. Edison approved his automobile experimentation and certainly, this shaped the world.
[Henry’s views of Jews is very controversial and I won’t comment on that. I’m glad to have Arabic and Jews friends and life mentors.]

Henry Ford’s Book

The book is quite interesting to read because of the language, he talks on the first perspective and direct interaction with the reader, he doesn’t break the 4th wall but it seems he is explaining something for the reader.

Sometimes the sentences are direct and short but hide specific and deep meanings, like about his thought of currency manipulation, his view of bankers, Democracy and Government interference on business.

Henry Ford on Agile?

The producer depends for his prosperity upon serving the people.

Money comes naturally as result of service. 

Although this may sound an exercise of thought but several Agile principles and can be interpreted in the book. Some of them can be highlighted here:

> Transparency

His defense of democracy is a clear example of transparency

>  Inspection

He aims for specific and minimalistic same cars models is a pure example of inspections, since one needs to have standards for inspections.

> Adaptation

The chapters about his success and failures can also be seen as an adaptation. Experimentation is an adaptation.

The main thing, I must add is that Agile and specifically Scrum is heavy based on  Empiricism, which actually states that knowledge comes from experience and knowing variables to make decisions [Scrum Guide, pg 3]. That’s basically Henry’s ideas and even is corroborated by the avoidance of the creation of new methodologies and adoption of the so-called freak styles (page 9 of his book).

Henry Ford against changes?

Henry Ford’s words were pro simplicity but he was against changes and new methodological breakthrough. In other words, relying on what was already working to do things instead of too much risk and too much creativity.
This was expected though since he’s academic, engineer and worked in Edison’s company.  Why? Because engineering is about using what works to do things, not about invention, although with some extent of experimentation I might add, of course.
The disagreements with his son also corroborate for this interpretation of his lines of thought. Using known methodologies to do things, faster and client based.

Fundamental idea

The thing I liked must on the book, and that changed my whole interpretation of Henry’s idea, is that actually according to him the creation and use of automobiles is an exercise of freedom. A car is a tool for human’s freedom of going – freewill 

I personally never saw that way, but that’s true. If you don’t have a  car you really on either someone’s else’s car or public transport, therefore your exercise of free will is limited by some borders and he aimed to break those borders.

Quick but important note

There are many controversies in the book, for example stating that people are not all equal, which I personally must disagree. All persons are equal, undoubtedly.

[Again, Henry’s views of Jews are not expressed on the book, at least the part I read. Discrimination of any kind, in my opinion, is pure nonsense and ignorance.]


Henry Ford’s: My Life and Work.

Scrum Guide, by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland

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