Everything around us started as an idea: the airplane, the automobile, the computer chip, the chocolate chip…and the bicycle.
But those ideas didn’t come to fruition overnight. They evolved. The Wright Brothers went through a lot of trial and error in their efforts to emulate the birds. Long before the microchip Turing was soldering and spluttering about how to solve the Enigma and the chocolate chip evolved from an even bigger idea to extract cacao from plants. They all started from a simple thing seen every day – the birds in the sky, the vacuum tube and the cacao trees –and they became something else. Something better, innovative, and yet still absolutely common.
Which brings me back to the bicycle. Or, as I refer to it, Project RP7 05404. It began with a very simple philosophy: I love riding my bike, but I drive too much. I work a long way from home, and while the area I live in is conducive to riding a bike, my bike isn’t conducive to what I have to carry around on my errands. And all that driving disturbs me because I’m a green kind of guy – 90 per cent of my errands could be done on my bike, if only it had a better design for my needs.
So that philosophy and frustration and eco-concern led to an idea: a cargo bike. In fact, an incredible, innovative, technologically superior cargo bike that runs on pedal power – without the chain – a transmission system that needs no lubrication. And one that is made from parts that other people thought were not worth keeping anymore. Cast off. Discarded. Wasted…a lot of wasted ideas.
Innovation is about thinking, day to day, of ways to improve what we see around us: the products and equipment we use, how we do the big things, and the little things.
One day, I’d like it if all my employees rode their bicycles to work, and maybe that will come. In the meantime, I’m working on my Project. I’m changing the way I live my life; I’m leading my team and our business to look at ways to improve what we see around us: the products and equipment we use, how we do the big things, and the little things. And to look at how our clients use them.
We can make them better just by thinking about them – because innovation comes from ideas and perseverance.
RP7 05404 is just one simple wasted piece that now has a new purpose, but keep watching its evolution. And the next time you struggle with something that needs a better idea, just remember, “It’s as easy as riding a bicycle.”