When I began my career in the epicenter of the domestic automobile industry (Detroit, Michigan), I was surrounded by customers and consequently vehicles from General Motors, Ford and Chrysler. Every time, I would see a vehicle from a competing automaker, I thought that we had to work much harder to win against our local competitors. Rarely did I see a vehicle from Toyota, Mercedes-Benz, BMW or Nissan. As I got older and I began to travel beyond my local bubble, the equation completely flipped and I would primarily see vehicles from foreign-based automakers. That’s when I realized that at Ford we weren’t only competing against domestic manufacturers but from automakers around the globe. This helped re-orient my perspective to a view that we needed to make sure our vehicles weren’t just good for customers in Michigan but met the needs of customers wherever they might be.
In school, our kids are taught to solve problems using reading, writing and arithmetic as their foundation. Fundamentally, the way our children are prepared to solve problems has not changed very much in decades despite the introduction of very powerful technology based platforms that can process massive amounts of data and develop efficient automated solutions to many manual tasks. While we sometimes layer in different assessment methodologies or utilize the latest and greatest curriculum, the core is still fundamentally based on developing expertise in a core set of subjects. If our kids are only ever exposed to one way of solving problems, then they may not realize that there are other platforms such as technology that they may also be able to utilize. Only through the studying of multiple avenues for solution development do they gain an appreciation of the pros/cons of each option so that when the time comes, they can select the most efficient option.