The "Green" Market Creates an Overseas Sales Network for Power Products
It was the summer of 1975, and Takeo Ogano had recently completed a key phase of an R-research project in which he was developing a new technology for the ME engine. It was then that he was ordered to create a lawn mower. This was a baffling request to Ogano, since Honda - a manufacturer in a country with very little grass to mow - should wish to enter a market filled with dedicated, expert makers of lawn mowers. Despite his confusion, however, Ogano began working on the project. He decided to go back to the basics, that of course being research. His objective was to understand the lawn mower and define what Honda should look for in such a machine.
Ogano was convinced that he would invariably hit a wall if he focused exclusively on the engineering of hardware. He knew he would not come up with a workable product concept without answers to several questions. These he would obtain by understanding the key elements required of a lawn mower.
Ogano began by studying the grass itself, learning about its histories and geographical distributions around the world. Moreover, he studied the engineering aspects of lawn mowers based on models and catalogues from other companies. Still, he was unable to identify the quality he sought; the quality that would connect the machine and the user and thus create product appeal. It was then that Ogano was instructed by Honda R&D Director Kiichi Momota to visit the markets, where he could experience local environments and understand the tool's real-world applications. He immediately left for the U.S. and Europe, hoping to verify with his own eyes the things he could not see on paper. It was February 1976.
Samples of grass were brought back from various countries (The photographs depict samples taken in France.)