Many breakthrough technologies or products have been met with skepticism and laughter when they were launched.
If you were born before the 1990s, chances are you had to laugh with yuppies talking loudly in their big, plastic phones on the train. Posers! Why would anybody need to be available all the time? Or you might remember the early stages of the Internet, when searching for almost everything was a nightmare and every website looked like it was made by a toddler in MS Paint.
With this in mind, imagine what impact 3D printers, home batteries and the recent discoveries regarding our microbiome could have in the near future. The moral of the story? What seems useless today could be the next big thing tomorrow.
Drawbacks versus potential
Large established companies are good examples of skepticism towards innovation. They saw a new technology and rejected it, claiming that it could never be better than what they offered. They focused too much on the drawbacks and did not see the potential. History has proven them wrong. Don’t judge an idea too soon.
This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.
(Western Union Telegraph Company internal memo dated 1876).
One of the main reasons why novelty and feasibility seem hard to reconcile is that
new ideas bring more unknowns. Decision makers want to work with metrics like ‘Return on Investment’ (ROI) to determine the viability of these ideas, but for the newest ideas such metrics are difficult, if not impossible, to produce. If decision makers are more tolerant of uncertainty it can ease their tendency to reject creative ideas.
When you feel the urge to ridicule new products, try to have the reflex to objectively analyze that innovation. Does it contain functionalities that are not yet popular in today’s society, but that maybe fullfil a hidden need?
Don’t judge an idea too soon.