Skyactiv – A model for personal productivity


I love Mazdas. Particularly, the 3. It’s a fun, peppy, reliable car, that’s good on gas. It’s been my favorite rental car for years, and when my Passat had a heart attack, aka total engine failure, I went without delay, to my local Mazda dealer to get my new Mazda hatchback.
Mazda was pitching something called “Skyactiv”. At first, I really didn’t understand it, and brushed it off as being only some marketing pitch. However, after seeing that my new Skyactiv Mazda had almost the same performance as the bigger and more expensive 2.5 liter engine, while sipping fuel, giving me 30 MPG. This pleased me very much I must say, as between the improved fuel mileage, and being able to use regular gas, knocked my gas bills in half from the old Passat days. The Passat was also a class action attorney’s dream, with recall after recall, and class action suit after class action suit.


So, I started to investigate what exactly Skyactiv was, and I ended up understanding not only the mechanics, but the philosophy of Skyactiv, and I strongly believe that the Skyactiv philosophy can be a model for personal and/or business development.

What is Skyactiv?

To first understand what Skyactiv is, you have to understand what Mazda is not. Mazda is not Ford or Toyota. Mazda does not have the size or development dollars to spend on costly projects, like alternative fuel vehicles, which will provide a limited short term payoff. In order for Mazda to be successful, their R&D dollars must be used efficiently and effectively, and have a relatively quick payoff. Innovation also needs to be leveraged across platforms wherever possible, to best take advantage of the investment made.
In Mazda’s case, it did not make sense to innovate in the area of alternative fuel vehicles. The resources spent on developing electric fuel cell vehicles, or vehicles which ran on alternative fuels, like natural gas, would have too long term of a payoff, and would have strapped the limited resources for the company. So Mazda chose instead to improve on what they do best, making safe, fuel efficient, vehicles, that are fun to drive.
Innovation focused around improving the core vehicles of the Mazda brand. And innovation focused around improving a number of technologies, not just a specific one. Mazda made innovations to the engines, transmissions, frames, and safety components of their vehicles. Taken one at a time, each offered incremental improvement, but in concert, these changes made for much better vehicles.
Over time, Skyactiv innovations are being added to all of the vehicles in the Mazda product line. Skyactiv technology itself is also dynamic, and each new version of Mazda’s product line has the latest Skyactiv technologies integrated into them. The result is a technology that is constantly being improved upon, and upgraded, keeping Mazda ahead of it’s competitors, and making their core products better, safer, and more fuel efficient.
All the while, Mazda stuck to their roots, and did not employ technologies which effected the perception of their brand as being fun to drive.  Skyactiv improved upon, and did not replace Zoom-Zoom.

Lessons Learned

By following the principles that Mazda used for Skyactiv philosophy, you and your business could move on to better things. Let’s break them down.

  • Start with your core beliefs. These are the characteristics that you and others identify as valuable, the things that make you different. Changes should be made to improve upon and strengthen these characteristics, and all efforts should be made not to do things that jeopardize these beliefs.
  • Realize your limitations, and live within them. You can still grow and change within the context of your timeframe, budget, and skill set, and don’t need to stretch yourself impossibly beyond what you have available to you.
  • Pursue incremental change across a number of fronts. Changing your diet, productivity skills, overall health, education and spirituality in isolation might be incremental, but over time, will cause a major change to yourself as a person.
  • Apply changes to other areas of your life. Personal productivity improvements can also be used to provide advances in your business life, as could things you learn in your spiritual education and growth.
  • Always push for improvement. It doesn’t just stop with one improvement. Life should be about constantly trying to improve yourself, and the lives of those around you.

Most big changes don’t happen overnight. They are the process of changing a little, day by day, and constantly improving. By approaching life with a Skyactiv mindset, you’ll always be the one who goes Zoom-Zoom.

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