Faster horses and tone-deaf designers

If I’d asked my customers what they wanted, they’d have said a faster horse – Henry Ford (allegedly)

This quote has always bothered me. Not only is it dismissive of customer input, but I’ve seen it misused terribly by a wide range of people, who cite it as an excuse to ignore other people and design whatever they want. So it was with great delight that I found this marvelous debunking of the “quote” and the philosophy behind it.

Let me dispel with the suspense; it doesn’t appear that Henry Ford ever actually uttered this famous and polarizing phrase. We have no evidence that Ford ever said those words…

However, even if Ford didn’t verbalize his thoughts on customers’ ostensible inability to communicate their unmet needs for innovative products — history indicates that Henry Ford most certainly did think along those lines — his tone-deafness to customers’ needs (explicit or implicit), had a very costly and negative impact on the Ford Motor Company’s investors, employees, and customers.