In visit to MIT, FedEx founder Frederick Smith shares thoughts

On Jan. 26, the MIT Middle for Transportation and Logistics (CTL) hosted FedEx founder and govt chair Frederick W. Smith for an intimate, one-on-one dialog with Yossi Sheffi, director of CTL and professor of civil and environmental engineering. Their speak, titled “50 Years of Delivering Innovation,” centered on the evolution of the availability chain and logistics fields during the last half-century — by which FedEx performed a big half.

Smith’s go to kicked off CTL’s yearlong celebration of its fiftieth anniversary. The 12 months of its founding, 1973, coincides with the 12 months that Federal Specific first started operations — with 14 Dassault Falcon 20 plane delivering 189 packages, a far cry from the 16.5 million packages it now delivers day by day.

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In his introduction, Sheffi known as Smith “a legend in our subject.” A real visionary, Sheffi continued, “he began an trade greater than an organization.” From in a single day delivery — which was unparalleled in 1973 — to package deal monitoring, FedEx has been a constant chief on innovation within the delivery trade.

Smith described his philosophy on innovation as fairly easy: “For those who’re in enterprise,” he stated, “and also you don’t innovate, you’re within the strategy of commoditization or extinction.”

Throughout a Q&A session with college students, researchers, and MIT group members, Smith articulated two issues enterprise leaders should tolerate to innovate efficiently. First, he stated, “you’ve acquired to have the ability to tolerate characters. A whole lot of the individuals who give you actually good concepts are a bit of unusual in sure methods.” He grinned and added, “That’s what folks considered me.”

The second requirement is to “have the ability to tolerate failure.”

Smith credit the continual drive to innovate — and willingness exit on a limb for daring new concepts — for FedEx’s longevity. “Not yearly is nice,” he stated. “We make some errors on one factor or one other, however by some means we acquired from that 189 packages to $100 billion, as a result of we’re very analytical and we do perceive you need to change.” As cautionary examples, he cited firms that “modified the world” like Solar Microsystems and Wang Laboratories, however which have since come and gone. “However right here we’re,” Smith continued. “We’re nonetheless standing.”

Innovation is an important worth for firms to carry, crucial to survival, in accordance with Smith. “The way in which you need to do it’s to do it,” he stated, encouraging enterprise leaders to “pound their fists continually” about the necessity to adapt and alter.

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CTL@50 Presents: 50 Years of Delivering Innovation – A Dialog with FedEx Founder Fred Smith


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