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Monday, October 22, 2007
Henry Ford
Image: courtesy of The Ford Foundation

Humanity, Henry Ford (1863-1947) and the Ford Foundation

Sometimes the Present has a lot to learn from the Past.

Henry Ford was born on July 30, 1863 on a rural farm in an area that is now part of Dearborn, Michigan (near Detroit). He was an automotive pioneer and founded the Ford Motor Company in 1903. Henry Ford was a huge inventor (161 awarded U.S. Patents), the mass production pioneer, and created the Model 'T' Automobile and its efficient production methods. This brought the car and transportation to many people. One side of him that isn't so widely spoken about is that in addition to becoming one of the richest men in America in his time, and building a strong corporate survivor for his Family and all People, he was a true humanitarian and a friend to all countries.

Ford believed that hard work brought success to humanity, but also that with all types of success came the need to be aware of the negative influences that success can bring. He left the majority of his money to establish the Ford Foundation with his specific wish that it "receive and administer funds for scientific, educational and charitable purposes, all for the public welfare". Today the Ford Foundation has over 12 Billion Dollars in assets to administer to public causes that Henry Ford believed in. It supports organisations throughout the world, with offices in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, Russia, and its Headquarters are in New York, U.S.A, with a goal of helping to establish the means for grant seekers to have continued success at humanitarian causes.

Henry Ford released his autobiography "Ford, My Life and Work" in 1922, which is a book about his history and his philosophy about life. It is an excellent book, and very relevant to today, amazingly written 85 years ago. He carefully made sure to include messages to all people and made no distinction as to their origin or geographical location. His most succinct message comes in the Introduction section of his book titled "WHAT IS THE IDEA?".

If we can learn anything from the past from him, and knowing what happened after 1922, it is that all of us could do nothing better than to shake each others hand from country to country, prosper, convey a warm welcome to each other, care for others as we do our families, and use work and economic reward for the real challenge - Restoring The Earth To Its Natural Beauty. Ford thoroughly believed that the 'machine' had to be innovated but not at the expense of the environment, and that negative influences that deter humanity should not be allowed to get in the way of positive ones.

In general he believed we should not allow ourselves, regardless of which geographical location we stand in, to be dragged into conflicts, so someone remote from the battlefield can bolster their balance sheet at our expense. If we do allow this, then our mission from the day we swung from trees is flawed, and our true capability to progress may be lost. Profit is good if it delivers and drives exceeding our overall challenges and ensures our continued future.

Today, many profitable corporations with long histories of success, still live by these virtues, and it starts at the top in the Executive and works its way down, just as it did when Henry Ford was alive and running Ford.

All of us move forward together as One!, he probably would have said today.

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