An Open Invitation to Participate

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The two low-speed cam followers and one high-speed cam follower form the basis of VTEC technology.



<< 1. Variable Valve Timing... for Power and Fuel Economy
<< 2. Designing a Dream: A Hundred Horses per Liter
<< 3. An Open Invitation to Participate
<< 4. Discerning Genuine Technologies
<< 5. Pursuing Excellence Through Trial and Error
<< 6. Applying the Technology to All Honda Models
<< 7. The Confidence Needed to Innovate
 


It was decidedly easier to set the goal than to convey it to the development staff. When Kajitani sat down with his associates and gave them the news, he was immediately swept back by a barrage of questions.

For example, the target 8,000 rpm was almost 20 percent higher than the maximum output of 6,800 rpm achieved by current 1.6-liter DOHC engines. Moreover, the inertial force upon various engine parts would increase by 40 percent. Naturally, the engine would be subject to considerably higher loads due to its increased interior heat. Therefore, to reduce inertial mass under such high revolutions, the weight of each part would have to be reduced. At the same time, it was obvious that doing so would result in lower rigidity, causing problems in durability and reliability. No one knew how to achieve the goal or what approach they should take. A big debate was started within the team as to whether the goal was even reachable.

It was a natural reaction, of course. They were told to develop a dream engine like nothing they had ever seen before. To achieve it, they would have to enter a new realm of technology. "The more you know, the farther you can see," said Kajitani.

"The team members couldn't forget their fears, as long as there was the possibility that they might fail."

Discussions were held day after day for three straight months. One day, Kajitani decided they had had enough of such discussions, and so gathered his team for an announcement.

Though each team member was interested, the team as a whole needed a push before it could accept the challenge and reach for a new level. Kajitani announced his decision to give that push. He knew that timing would be crucial to the direction of such a large group. Accordingly, he gave them ample time to express their opinions. Eventually, the discussions served to align all vectors in a single direction. When Kajitani finally addressed the engineering staff, he was able to do so knowing that each of them had the burning desire to create the world's best engine.

"I have decided I'm going to try," he said, speaking to the group of more than 100 engineers. "It's an important project, but you don't have to participate if you don't want to." No one came forward to say he was leaving the project, for despite the fears and doubts it was the kind of project no engineer could refuse.
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