“Carl, this is never gonna work! The roads are not suitable for cars, and there are not enough pharmacies where you can buy gasoline.” [A mobility “expert” on the invention of Carl Benz, ca. 1889]
What do you think of the above quote? Ridiculous? Funny? Is that what you would have said?
Let’s assume that 130 years ago society would have been the same as it is today. Do you agree that many smart people would have talked like that? That lots of articles would have been published in which the absurdity of Carl Benz’ invention would have been “proven”? “Women don’t want to buy gasoline in a pharmacy and then pour it into a tank.” “The range is too short, and you always have to look where the nearest pharmacy is.” “What do we do if it rains? The motor car doesn’t have a roof.” “The horse industry is too powerful, you won’t be able to prevail.” “Too many jobs are tied to the carriage industry. Just think of all the suppliers who deliver wood, wheels and bridles. The resulting unemployment will cost the Emperor his throne!”
Sounds funny, doesn’t it? Believe me: it was like that back then. I have read dozens of books about people who achieved incredible things. Whether it was a Steve Jobs, a Ray Kroc, Konosuke Matsushita or the “Intel Trinity”. They all did not have an easy life. They worked day and night.
I don’t know much about Carl Benz, but one thing is certain: he had to overcome a lot of resistance. Convince many people who knew better. Fight financial crises – not to mention political upheavals like the First World War. I don’t think he could simply go to a startup incubator and attend a “How to start a company” seminar at the Chamber of Commerce. My very strong suspicion is also that his wife Bertha at some point got fed up with his fiddly work and his obsession to build a “horseless carriage” (that’s what the invention is called in the patent).
“Carl, why didn’t you come to dinner on time?” “Excuse me, Bertha-darling, I just had to tweak something on the engine.” “Every day the same story. I’m sick of these excuses. If only I had married a farmer, then I would have a secure future and not this constant ‘I just have to tweak something’!”
History repeats itself. The people are still the same. Many have failed. Carl Benz pushed through his invention. He overcame resistance and gave humanity progress.
Remember: Carl Benz did not try to optimize the horse in parallel. Carl Benz was 100% motor vehicle.
We cannot stop change. It will happen as soon as the time has come. Whether we like it or not.
Are you in?
PS: If you want to get more inspiration around electric mobility, hydrogen and renewable energy, go to www.david-wenger.de and forward this mail to your colleagues and friends.
PS 2: Thanks to Mario Herger, from whom I “borrowed” this very simple but incredibly precise description of the most important innovation principle: Focus! 100% motor vehicle and not try to optimize the horse in parallel.