The Expanded and Annotated My Life and Work: Henry Ford's Universal Code for World-Class Success, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Expanded and Annotated My Life and Work

Henry Ford's Universal Code for World-Class Success, 1st Edition

By William A. Levinson, Henry Ford, Samuel Crowther

Productivity Press

319 pages

Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Hardback: 9781466557710
pub: 2013-04-18

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Henry Ford's industrial innovations were directly responsible for the transformation of the United States into the most productive, affluent, and powerful nation on Earth. My Life and Work describes exactly how Ford did this in terms of not only manufacturing science, but also economics and organizational behavior. This holistic approach, and its validation by world-class results, make Ford's original work the best business leadership book ever written. The Expanded and Annotated My Life and Work: Henry Ford's Universal Code for World-Class Success updates this original with modern perspectives that explain and organize Ford’s thought process explicitly.

My Life and Work is not a mechanistic or industry-specific formula that practitioners can follow like work instructions in a factory, but rather a holistic synergy of impartial laws of economics, science, and human behavior—a synergy that Ford called the universal code. This universal code simultaneously delivered high profits, high wages, and low prices in every industry to which Ford applied it. It also realized unprecedented improvements in industries ranging from coal mines to railroads, and even healthcare as practiced in the Henry and Clara Ford Hospital.

This annotated edition introduces Ford’s universal code along with vital economic, behavioral, Lean manufacturing, and customer service principles. It contains almost all the material of the original, plus more than 30 percent new content that reinforces Ford’s timeless principles.

Readers who understand and internalize Ford’s universal code can easily overcome the self-limiting paradigms that afflict today’s organizations. These include, for example, the belief that healthcare is a zero-sum game in which escalating costs are the price of quality. The book illustrates the basic elements of what is now called the Toyota Production System as well as the organizational and human relations principles needed to gain buy-in and engagement from all participants.


Any history lover would truly appreciate Henry Ford’s value to the automotive and industrial revolution. There are very valuable lessons from Ford’s experiences in improving productivity in manufacturing and health care industries. … an excellent view of Henry Ford’s life and contributions during the industrial revolution. … provides insight into business practices and a deeper understanding of his universal code for world-class success which was very applicable during that period. There are also useful guidelines as to how these principles can be applied to modern-time challenges.

—Nazanin Mehrooz, in PMI World Journal, Vol. II, Issue XI

Table of Contents

Beginning of Business

Ford’s Inspiration: The Steam-Powered Road Engine

Clocks: The Inspiration for the Synchronized Moving Assembly Line

Horses as a Wasteful Source of Transportation

Ford on Nyet Engineers and Other Wet Blankets

How Reciprocating Motion Eliminates Waste

Material Selection in Design for Manufacturing

What I Learned about Business

Overcome Paradigms to Achieve Results

Customer Satisfaction Is a Key Selling Point

Stocks and Bonds Are Dangerous Business Illusions

Pay Attention to the Work, and Money Will Take Care of Itself

The Role of Reliability in Customer Satisfaction

Continuous Improvement (Kaizen)

Overcome Ingrained Habits to Achieve Continuous Improvement

Preconceived Ideas and Paradigms Are Obstacles to Success

Reduce Costs and Improve Quality to Expand a Market

A Cost Accounting System Is Not a Suicide Pact

Managerial or Engineering Economics

Starting the Real Business

Charge the Lowest Price Possible, and Not What the Market Will Bear

Ford and Auto Racing

Role of Supply Chain Management

Transportation Is a Major Source of Waste

Recognition of Customer Requirements

Quality and Reliability Are Key Selling Points

Do Not Add Unnecessary Middlemen

Secret of Manufacturing and Serving

Material Selection and Design for Reliability (DFR)

Standardization Holds Down Costs

Work for Continuous Cost Reduction

Improve the Productivity of the Individual Worker

The Importance of Reliability

Getting into Production

The Birth of the Assembly Line

Basic Job Design Principles

Subdivision of Labor

Ergonomics and the Adjustable Height Skillet

How to Run a Balanced Factory at (Almost) 100% Capacity

The Introduction of Cellular Manufacturing

Ignore the Nyet Engineers

Keep the Work in Continuous Motion, Avoid Batch Operations

Subdivide the Job to Eliminate Waste Motion

Automate Jobs and Reduce Material Transfer Distances

Ford’s Keynotes of Production

Machines and Men

Break Down Organizational Barriers

Authority Is Not Leadership

The Law of the Situation

Ford’s Hiring Practices

Do Not Allow the Cost Accounting System to Run the Factory

Frontline Workers Are the Best Guardians against Waste (Muda)

Visual Controls and Error-Proofing

Terror of the Machine

Characteristics of the Ideal Industrial Leader

Repetitive Motion Injury and Job Rotation

Employment of Disabled Workers

Rules and Regulations

Skills Inventory

Reduce Material Transportation Distances

Key Safety Principles


Capital and Labor Are Partners, Not Adversaries

The Business Must Create the Wages

Low Wages Stem from Waste

The Role of Wages in National Prosperity

The Five Dollar Work Day

Why Not Always Have Good Business?

Seasonal Industries

Economic Depressions

Wage Cuts: Proof of Managerial Incompetence

Opportunity Cost of Not Doing Business

What Is the "Industrial Idea"?

How Cheaply Can Things Be Made?

Speculation and Bubbles

How to Achieve Zero Inventory


Use Lower Prices to Drive Lower Costs

Fancy Office Buildings Are Evidence of Waste

Standardization and Cost Reduction

Maintainability and Reliability as Selling Points

Identify and Eliminate Waste

Find a Use for Everything

How to Lose the Luddites

Take Profits Out of Waste, Not Employees or Customers

Money and Goods

Finance Begins in the Shop and Not the Bank

Borrowing (and Government Subsidies) Cannot Cure Bad Business

Beware of Complacency

Dysfunctional Effects of a Focus on Dividends

Wages Come before Dividends

Waste Includes the Cost of Idleness

Inventory: "Everything Has to Move In and Move Out"

Money: Master or Servant?

"Housecleaning" Does Not Mean Layoffs

Transportation and Cycle Time

Borrowing Cures the Symptoms But Not the Disease

The Role of the National Financial System

Finance Should Serve Industry

Money Is Not Wealth

Why Be Poor?

Put the Job First and Money Second

Waste Is the Primary Barrier to Production and Service

Hoarding as a Form of Waste

Seasonal Work and Cyclical Industries

The Obsolescence of the City

The Role of Energy in Wealth Creation

The Proper Role of Capital

Tractor and Power Farming

The Mechanization of Agriculture

Wasteful Transportation in Agriculture

Why Charity?

Industry Can Make Charity Unnecessary

Industry Removes the Need for Charity

The Henry Ford Trade School

The Henry and Clara Ford Hospital

No Free Lunch

The Role of Self-Reliance


How Ford Turned DT&I Around

A Lesson in Waste Recognition

Avoid Wasteful Transportation

Things in General

Manufacturing an End to War

The Danger of Propaganda

Education Must Be Practical

Democracy and Industry

The Fallacies of Class Warfare

Labor Unrest and Strikes Should Be Unnecessary

Productivity Creates High-Wage Jobs

Strikes Always Fail

The Employer’s Duty to Address Root Causes of Labor Dissatisfaction

Sloganeering Is Not Leadership

The Employer and the Mandate of Heaven


The Right Leader Is the One Who Can Do the Job

What We May Expect

Prosperity Should Be within Everybody’s Reach

Focus on Service, and Profits Will Take Care of Themselves

A Restatement of Ford’s Basic Principles

Look for Multiple Product Uses

The Role of the Individual in the Advancement of Industry

Standardization as the Servant and Not the Master

The Need for Sustainable Manufacturing




Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Quality Control
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Industries / Manufacturing Industries