Case | HBS Case Collection | March 2011 (Revised March 2012)

The Whiz Kids

by Tom Nicholas and David Chen

Abstract

In October 1945, Henry Ford II received a telegram in his office at the Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, Michigan written by Charles "Tex" Thornton, a U.S. Air Force colonel. The telegram presented an opportunity for Ford to deploy a system of statistical control which had been developed and applied successfully in the management of the Army Air Forces. Henry Ford II had recently assumed control of his grandfather's troubled automotive empire, and was looking for experienced auto industry men to help him make Ford a dominant name once again. Thornton had no industry experience whatsoever, but seemed convinced that his ideas could be applicable to Ford's company. Perhaps the Ford Motor Company could use an injection of new ideas. Hiring Thornton and his men could end up being Ford's most inspired move. Or his most disastrous.

Keywords: Mathematical Methods; Management Systems; Accounting; Business Processes; Auto Industry; United States;

Citation:

Nicholas, Tom, and David Chen. "The Whiz Kids." Harvard Business School Case 811-042, March 2011. (Revised March 2012.)