How often have you heard someone in your work circles say “Nowadays we don’t see work more than two to three weeks ahead” or “Since major contracts have started finishing, we don’t know what to do with our current staff”?  If a lot – you’re not alone.

Looking out for the next contract opportunity is the norm for many.  But could we improve this outlook with disruptive innovation, better marketing or networking? Absolutely!

In fact most jobs are generated by word of mouth and  phone calls we weren’t expecting.  And, when those dry up – you’re still dictated by the market than calling the shots any way.

Start asking how to jump ahead of the queue by drawing inspiration from those who’ve paved the way!


A faster horse – Ford’s disruptive innovation journey

Henry Ford is famously quoted for saying ‘If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.’  A statement reflective of an era where everybody had horses but very few cars, and his underlining belief that his company knew best.  Since then, this phrase has been adopted in arguments and debates around the world when it comes to aspirations of disruptive thinking.


The art of the assembly line

Surprisingly this isn’t commonly what he was best known for. Ford’s real contribution was developing the assembly line. In 50 years more than 9 million Mustangs were sold around the world, transforming him into a man credited with “Fordism” – mass production of inexpensive goods coupled with high wages for workers.

“Designing a good looking car is as easy as pie. Designing a car that the company can afford, manufacturing guys can assemble and engineers can engineer, that’s damn difficult.” Ford Engineer

His global vision had consumerism as the key to peace, and his intense commitment to systematically lower costs resulted in many technical and business innovations. But didn’t come without its fair share of challenges. The Edsel Ford model was an expensive and embarrassing example of the wrong car at the wrong time with the wrong design.

“This is why people get nervous about innovating. People put their careers on the line to get this going. It was a high –risk game. The Edsel designers were known as the E-guys. Henry Ford II did not want to have anything to do with them.’’


Ford analysis and its implications

Ford responded to an unknown market need disruptively paving the way for the modern automobile industry – by acknowledging that customers don’t always know what they want.  His only downfall being he failed to listen to his customers or test his vision against reality.  Halting the process of innovation for his company.

So, while not a perfect run, we can take away from Ford’s story that having the confidence to buck the norm is a game changer.


What it mean for you

At HERA, we believe our members don’t have to be a Henry Ford to innovate, nor aspire to his scale of disruption.  Diversifying your market and productising your service offerings are easily addressed with your capabilities. Develop your innovation muscle to consistently temper innovative strides against market behaviour is all it takes.

Next time there’s a question around staff retention or contracts drying up, actively jump the queue and apply disruptive thinking.


Innovation ultimately transform reputations and brands over time to reflect what we do

We’re putting our efforts where our mouth is.  Exploring low temperature clean energy research that demands a different approach for our energy sector. No-one in New Zealand is manufacturing low temperature energy conversion plants – despite our capability to make them more affordable. An increasing demand for alternative energy sources globally means there’s never been a better time to disrupt the market as now!  That’s why we’re submitting a research partnerships proposal to government this August to seek funding for transformative industry initiatives.  Clean energy technologies will be a major research programme within it.

Heavy engineering is classed a traditional industry.  But, many of our members are innovating and changing their paradigm of operation and market impact to remain competitive. It shows no matter how big or small the initiative or effort, having a disruptive mind set and constantly asking what is the ‘next thing’ is assurance for progress.

Free yourselves from customer constraints and beliefs in business philosophies. Be guided by objective market trend analyses.  And when you do, call us – or better still, join our research partnerships programme! Contact our Manager Industry Development Boaz Habib. Start conversations today, that change your tomorrow for the better.

Recognise an innovator today

Our industry awards categories are now open for nomination and it includes an innovator of the year award.  Why not make a recommendation for someone today?  Simply click here!