“The guy who invented the first wheel was an idiot. The guy who invented the other three, he was a genius.”
– Sid Caesar
So much of what we take for granted today, were innovations in their time.
- The printing press. A means of disseminating information and knowledge to the masses. It literally brought the world together.
- The telephone. Do you believe it once had its dissenters? Some said it had too many shortcomings to take seriously. Others believed it would never last, because after all, the postal service had plenty of messengers.
- Radio. Many said it had no intrinsic value either and would merely be a fad – including David Sarnoff, who initially refused to invest in it. Yet, he became one of the its greatest pioneers.
- Then again, what would we do without the invention of the light bulb? Obviously we would have shorter days, socialize less, sleep more.
- The computer was merely a glimmer in the eye of Alan Turing and his predecessors. In fact Thomas Watson, President of IBM said in 1943, he thought the world market for computers totaled perhaps five.
For the most part, today’s world relies on innovations initially derived from the past, but are nonetheless innovations for our time. Our modern day visionaries persisted, despite their own naysayers, to create breakthroughs that enhance how we live our lives today. Rather, than recreate the wheel, they expanded the usefulness of tools that already existed and worked consistently to find new ways to improve functionality, make it easier to use, develop more features, be more efficient, more accessible and definitely more mobile for people.
But for today, as well as yesterday, good innovation always begins with the end in mind. The ‘end’ always was and always will be, people. And, everyone who ever created anything, started out by asking the same question – ‘What if’……………..
Take the wheel for example. The wheel was invented in 3500 B.C. We don’t even think about it anymore but do you realize that a simple little wheel is used in virtually every part of our daily lives? From the mechanism in our watches to the cars we drive, we’re dependent on it every day.
And just when you think, there’s nothing new we can create, someone comes along to remind us that innovation, comes in all sizes. It doesn’t take an Apple watch or a self-driving electric car to make a difference. Sometimes it comes from people just like us who have an idea and see it through – like Water Bikes of Buffalo, a family business in Buffalo, NY that rents water bikes during the warmer months of the year.
In what may be the snowiest winter on record for the east coast, this small company asked themselves what they could do to come up with an idea for a new outdoor ice skating rink, built as part of the city’s revitalization project.
They asked themselves ‘What if?” What if we could go from water biking to ice biking? What if we could help draw people to the ice rink? What if we could enable people to be able to exercise and enjoy biking despite the winter weather? The bikes were created, rented at the new rink and were an immediate sensation.
Not only have people asked if they could buy them, but others have suggested they sells them as kits, so they can make their own. On top of that, cold snowy cities from Wyoming to Canada have contacted them about production.
Every business, regardless of size, has an opportunity to enhance lives.
Ask yourself: ”What if?”
What if you can do what you do, but do it differently?
What if you can do it better?