Ford Bets Big on Design Thinking

Why did Ford hire a furniture maker as CEO instead of someone with more automotive experience? The short story is because Jim Hackett understands the importance of designing products for the people who will use them.

“the question hovering over the car industry is basically whether high-tech entrants such as Tesla and Google can learn crankshafts and drivetrains faster than Ford, GM, and other carmakers can learn software and algorithms.”

This is just part of the story. The real challenge is anticipating what people will expect from their vehicles in the future. Those expectations are already changing, and the only way to stay in front is to understand your customer.

“If you look at business history, the winners are almost always those that get their user experience right,” Hackett said, though he allowed that putting a UX person in charge of the whole show has its pitfalls. “There’s a part of me that would want to spend all my time in here,” he told me while we were in the design studio. “I get so much joy and lift from thinking about the potential of things. But when I walk out of here, I have another kind of accountability, which is, I’ve got to—we’ve got to—deliver results. We have shareholders. That’s a design problem unto itself. How do you weld the two together?”

Jim Hackett – CEO, Ford Motor Company // via The Atlantic

Ford is clearly thinking ahead here. Only time will tell if the bet pays off. My guess is that it will, big time.