What the CEO of Ford said to its employees in 1965

In 1965, the Chevy Impala was causing Ford a lot of heartache. The Impala was the number #1 best-selling vehicle of all time in 1965 and Chevrolet outsold Ford, again.

I have tried to confirm this took place, but so far haven’t been able to. The story is that in the spring of 1965, Henry Ford II got all his executive team (floors of people) together and they walked down to the assembly line where all the cars and trucks were being built. He told the foreman to do something that rarely ever happened. He told him to shut down the line and get all the employees together so he could talk to them. Everyone, especially the executives thought they were about to lose their jobs.

He told them, “My grand-daddy started this company 65 years ago and never imagined we would take it up the tailpipe (ha) by a Chevy Impala. I want each of you to walk home tonight and while you are walking, I want you to think about how we can make our cars and trucks better. The man who comes to my office with an idea, that man gets to keep his job, The rest of you second-best losers -stay home. You don’t belong at Ford.” He turned around and walked away leaving them all in stunned silence.

Obviously, they all kept their jobs the next day, but he went on notice that what he valued most, were people that thought about ideas to make the company better. I feel certain that every suit (executive) went home that night and wrote up some ideas to show the boss the next day. Ha. Ford obviously turned it around and today is one of the most financially sound vehicle manufacturing companies in the world.

Today you can’t just clean house like in 1965 but the concept of new and fresh ideas is what makes people valuable to a company. It doesn’t matter what your job role is, every company wants people that think about ideas of how to improve what they are doing. KT

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