Soichiro Honda – Innovative Leader

Topics: Honda, Soichiro Honda, Motorcycle Pages: 5 (1252 words) Published: December 7, 2012
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Soichiro Honda – Innovative Leader

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The story of Soichiro Honda is a good example of innovative leader that overcame traditional thinking and recognized opportunities that other didn’t think were possible to implement. “Soichiro Honda created a motor vehicle industry when it should have been impossible. The time for that was the turn of the century, when Ford, Peugeot, and Daimler were created. Shipbuilding magnate Henry J. Kaiser tried to break into the auto business in 1947, and lasted only a decade. The territory was taken, transportation was a mature industry, and its giants wanted no new competitors. By mid-century, one man could no longer create such a manufacturing empire” (Honda of America, 2009). Japan had its own established giants, but Honda somehow made himself their equal. He possessed the necessary qualities such as knowledge, persistence, self-confidence and intellect to be qualified as an innovative leader.

Honda definitely had knowledge, not only a brilliant self taught engineer, but also a great businessman. Honda was born on November 17 of 1906 about in the small town 150 miles southwest of Tokyo in the family of blacksmith. His father had a shop that serviced bicycles and other small machines, which fascinated young Honda from childhood years. He was abscessed with automobiles and airplanes. He only had an elementary school education when he left home to work in the auto-repair company in 1922. “While employed at the auto shop, Honda built his own racing car using an old aircraft engine and handmade parts and participated in racing. His racing career was short lived, however. He suffered serious injuries in a 1936 crash” (Motorcycle Hall of Fame, 2009). In 1937 he founded his own company that manufactured piston rings, but he found that he lacked a basic knowledge of casting. To obtain it, he enrolled in a technical high school, applying theories as he learned them in the classrooms to his own factory. “But

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he did not bother to take examinations at the school. Informed that he would not be graduated, Honda commented that a diploma was "worth less than a movie theater ticket. A ticket guarantees that you can get into the theater. But a diploma doesn't guarantee that you can make a living" (Motorcycle Hall of Fame, 2009). His business motto was that it’s “not enough to have a good idea, a strong will and a willingness to put in the hours. If you made a product no better and no worse than your competitor's, the customer had no reason to prefer yours” (American Honda, 2009). However, reinvestment in technology offered a different way to grow ideas into new inventions that people would desire to purchase. Japan has made an impressive growth in heavy industries that had emerged during Honda's youth; however, he knew it would take something more to succeed in the turbulent 1950s. After the World War II, Honda’s piston ring plants were partially destroyed by allied bombing. He sells them to Toyota. His next venture becomes Honda Technical Research Institute opened in 1946; Honda’s new venture was opened for production of motorized bicycles with small war-sur plus motors. Due to the shortage of gasoline in post-war Japan, bicycles and small size motorcycles became very popular in Japan. In 1948 after the company was renamed as Honda Motor, the series of new engines and motorcycles have been produced. It wasn’t only a good engineering project but also a brilliant business move made in the right time and the right place. By 1955 Honda led motorcycle production in Japan and became world’s largest manufacturer in the world.

This success wasn’t just luck, Honda worked by trial and error, reinventing old technologies and changing stereotypes in doing business, designing and manufacturing bicycles. It was due to another great quality for an innovating and creating leader is the

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