Monday, January 01, 2007

The Honda Way


When there are many people in an organisation that don't want to work in an Agile way, they would obviously like to see the approach fail so that their way of working will prevail. This puts a lot of pressure on the Agile process to work perfectly, and for there to be no errors. This means that a risk-averse attitude is adopted, which goes against the concepts of 'refactor mercilessly' and 'have courage'. It also means that any worthwhile new ideas or techniques will be put to one side if there is any perceived risk involved in trying to progress.

The Honda ethos disapproves strongly of this, as recently re-iterated by their F1 Racing senior technical director Shuhei Nakamoto.

He encourages the team not to be afraid of making mistakes - because that is the only way the team will progress. He believes that a philosophy of experiment encourages the team's younger staff members to come up with fresh ideas - rather than being afraid to put forward concepts for fear of failure.

We flattened the organisation so that everyone working in (each) department can talk freely about their ideas and opinions. As long as an idea is theoretically correct and considered useful, we will discuss it - even if it comes from an inexperienced staff member. But they have to take responsibility for the ideas they provide. That is the Honda way.

Another thing I always tell the young staff is that they shouldn't be afraid of making mistakes. The failures will eventually improve our know-how. The important thing is to use that know-how correctly to make the next step forward. I kept telling them this. As a result, young people started to speak up and contribute more, which I believe was reflected in the gradual improvement in our performance.

I am happy about this, because it provides proof that the Honda Spirit of 'never be afraid, never give up' is penetrated thoroughly into the team. What Honda disapproves of is 'no action, no error'. I want all our staff to always keep the philosophy in mind.

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