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The Honda Philosophy

Shuhei Nakamoto, the Honda senior technical director, has been speaking of the way forward for the F1 team. Obviously, he read my recent post on Toyota for he identifies the same weakness that was infecting Honda and details the remedy applied.


Jenson Button in the Honda

Innovation is the most important factor in F1 design; without it one can only hope to run just behind the teams that are breaking new ground. Nakamoto has instilled this concept into his design team and his methods of doing so form the perfect blueprint for racing success. I particularly like this statement:

“We flattened the organisation so that everyone working in (each) department can talk freely about their ideas and opinions.”

That is a philosophy that uses all the talents and ideas of any team and we saw the result in Honda’s improvement mid-season in 2006. It seems to me that Honda have found the right man to take Honda to the championship in the coming year. Button for 2007!

I have to admit, however, that I am reminded of an old joke that should perhaps be allowed to rest in its forty-year old grave. But I cannot resist; please excuse this rare lapse into levity:

It seems that in the early days of testing the new Concorde airliner, the engineers ran into a problem. Every time the plane was put into a dive, the wings would break off. This was disconcerting for the test pilots, who were becoming fed up with the repeated need to bail out, and the engineers were frantic in their efforts to find a solution.

Money was running short and still the wings refused to remain attached to the plane. In desperation, the engineers put a suggestion box on the shop floor and tried all the responses they received but none worked. Finally, at the eleventh hour, they were down to the last suggestion, one so ludicrous it had been dismissed without a thought.

It made no sense at all. The idea was to drill two-inch diameter holes along the complete length of the wing roots. Surely this must weaken the structure, thought the engineers; but desperation makes fools of us all and they decided to give it a try. The holes were drilled and the plane tested.

To everyone’s amazement, it worked. The plane was soon swooping around the skies, doing barrel rolls, vertical dives, anything that was asked of it. So impressed were the engineers by this that they started a search for the genius who had suggested the cure. It turned out to have come from Albert, the plant’s lavatory cleaner. He was called up to the design office and congratulated.

During the course of the celebrations, the chief engineer asked Albert how he’d come up with the idea. The old cleaner answered in his rough cleaner’s dialect:

“Well, sor, I been lavatory cleaner at this ‘ere plant for nigh on thorty-foive year now. And I tell ee, in orl that toime, I done noticed that toilet paper never do tear along the dotted line…”

I’m sorry. I’ll shut up now.

One Response to “The Honda Philosophy”

  1. [...] Good old Mario Theissen is keeping me going with press releases, it seems. Today he is outlining BMW’s approach to F1, insisting that they will take the radical route, in similar fashion to Honda’s. [...]

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