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Driving Lessons

Here are the unconventional strategies Ford used to get its unconventional hybrid on the road.

  • Get Out The Map
    Ford conducted unusually in-depth consumer research in the United States and abroad. At one point, a team leader even spent time with a prospective customer at home and at work to understand his attitudes toward the environment and cars.
  • Share the wheel
    The Escape Hybrid team broke ranks with Ford tradition by integrating research scientists and engineers. The two groups created a distinctive team that pushed the boundaries of product development with tools and methods that will be useful for future vehicle programs.
  • Don't tailgate
    To keep the team focused as the finish line neared, the head of product development got corporate to back off. He made the team off-limits to his fellow senior execs. No time-consuming updates or presentations — the kinds of things that usually slow the pace down.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for directions
    As bright as the hybrid team was (with an unprecedented seven PhDs on board), members didn't pretend to have all the answers. They didn't hesitate to bring in colleagues for input. And their boss put the word out: Give the hybrid folks whatever they need.

A version of this article appeared in the October 2004 issue of Fast Company magazine.