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Driving Honda

Driving Honda

Inside the World's Most Innovative Car Company

Jeffrey Rothfeder

Hardcover, 320 pages, Published 2015
Dimensions: 6 x 9
ISBN: 978-1-59184-473-0
Item Number: P1570

Member Price: $27.95

List Price: $27.95
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Keywords

  • honda
  • innovation
  • car
  • quality
  • leadership
  • corporation
  • corporate
  • globalization
  • strategy
  • multinational
  • international

Description

Since its birth as a motorcycle company in 1949, Honda has steadily grown into the world’s fifth largest automaker and top engine manufacturer, as well as one of the most beloved, most profitable, and most consistently innovative multinational corporations. What drives the company that keeps creating and improving award-winning and bestselling models like the Civic, Accord, Odyssey, CR-V, and Pilot?

According to Jeffrey Rothfeder, what truly distinguishes Honda from its competitors, especially archrival Toyota, is a deep commitment to a set of unorthodox management tenets. The Honda Way, as insiders call it, is notable for decentralization over corporate control, simplicity over complexity, experimentation over Six Sigma–driven efficiency, and unyielding cynicism toward the status quo and whatever is assumed to be the truth. Honda believes in freely borrowing from the past as a bridge to “innovative discontinuity” in the present. And those are just a few of the ideas that the company’s colorful founder, Soichiro Honda, embedded in the DNA of his start-up sixty-five years ago.

As the first journalist allowed behind Honda’s infamously private doors, Rothfeder interviewed dozens of executives, engineers, and frontline employees about its management practices and global strategy. He shows how the company has developed and maintained its unmatched culture of innovation, resilience, and flexibility—and how it exported that culture to other countries that are strikingly different from Japan, establishing locally controlled operations in each region where it lays down roots.

For instance, Rothfeder reports on life at a Honda factory in the tiny town of Lincoln, Alabama, and what happened when American workers were trained to follow the Honda Way, as a self-sufficient outpost of the global company. Could they master Honda’s three core principles:

  • Embrace Paradox: Honda encourages respectful disagreement and debate between opposing viewpoints, on matters large and small. New ideas often emerge from conflict.
  • Real Place, Real Part, Real Knowledge: Honda teaches people to argue using facts, not assumptions. One must go to the factory floor, the showroom, the parking lot, the driver’s seat, or the truck bed—whatever it takes—to get the facts and make a decision that can be supported with data.
  • Respect Individualism: Honda often hires people with unusual backgrounds and independent streaks. It promotes those who question the status quo and who would probably struggle in organizations that focus on rigid rules and systems.