Ford Disliked Experts
Photo credit: Richard Arthur Norton
Ford greatly disliked experts and refused to employ them. In his 1924 book, My Life and Work, he said, “I never employ an expert in full bloom. If I ever wanted to kill opposition by unfair means, I would endow the opposition with experts.”
As a consequence, Ford Motor Company did not have any employees with advanced engineering or design engineering skills. In fact, it did not even have a proving ground and instead opted to test cars on public highways.
This lack of experts on-site often proved financially disastrous. One time, for example, when Ford’s electrical engineers couldn’t solve a problem with a massive generator, they employed the electrical engineer Charles Proteus Steinmetz (pictured above) to help them. On-site, Steinmetz rejected all help and solved the problem in two days with the aid of a notebook, a pencil, and a cot.
On the second night, Steinmetz climbed on top of the generator and made a chalk mark on its side. Then he told Ford’s engineers to remove a plate at the mark and replace 16 windings from the field coil. Once that was done, the generator performed perfectly—to the delight of Ford.
But his delight only lasted until a bill for $10,000 came. Flabbergasted, Ford requested the bill to be itemized. Steinmetz responded to Ford’s request with the following:
Making chalk mark on generator: $1
Knowing where to make mark: $9,999
I hate to say it, but this makes perfect sense to me! Gonna dance...gotta pay the piper!
Coffee out on the patio this morning. Temps are going up to 79 !