A little know fact is that Ford’s inspiration for the assembly line came from a slaughterhouse. Yes. You’ve read that right, a slaughterhouse!
Back in the day, taking cows apart was already a streamlined process. As the cow was moving around the slaughterhouse on a conveyor belt, specialized people were cutting certain parts, over and over and over again. This process was much faster than having one person slaughtering the entire cow.
Story goes that Ford had seen this and he thought: “If this system works so well for taking animals apart then it might work great for putting cars together.” So he reversed the system and voila: the world’s first assembly line.
I love this story because it shows that inspiration comes from strange places. Another reasons to love this story is that it hints to a recipe on how to look for inspiration in strange places.
Here’s how I see the steps to replicate Ford’s assembly line idea for your business:
- Define what area you want to improve: customer service, communication, mass production, sales, …
- Explore other businesses which have that area as core business model, or that perfected the skill over time
- Pick the top companies in that space
- Identify what technologies, models, partnerships make them so successful
- Take the essence of what you learned and see how you can apply it to your business model
Here is an example:
Let’s say my company sells shoes online and I want to increase traffic on the website. Where should I look for inspiration?
- Area of improvement: increase web traffic
- Businesses that have web traffic as their core business model: News industry, social networking sites, …
- Successful businesses in this area: Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, Reddit …
- Their tactics: social sharing, catchy titles, involve the community, UGC, …
- How can you use this for your own business?
- Start a blog and have catchy titles
- Invite people to generate content for you
- Have social sharing buttons
That’s it. I hope this will help you. Is this applicable in your field?