One of the problems we regularly face in innovation projects is our clients‘ resistance to their own best ideas. We have already quoted a number of sources in this blog, including the Italian Renaissance philosopher Machiavelli, the American journalist Jessica Livingston and the British Science Fiction author Arthur C. Clarke.
One of the most extreme examples of resistance to innovation that I know is from early twentieth century America, when automobiles were gradually replacing horse-drawn vehicles. The Farmers‘ Anti-Automobile Society of Pennsylvania drew up the following series of rules for car drivers:
- Automobiles traveling on country roads at night must send up a rocket every mile, then wait ten minutes for the road to clear. The driver may then proceed, with caution, blowing his horn and shooting off Roman candles, as before.
- If the driver of an automobile sees a team of horses approaching, he is to stop, pulling over to one side of the road, and cover his machine with a blanket or dust cover which is painted or colored to blend into the scenery, and thus render the machine less noticeable.
- In case a horse is unwilling to pass an automobile on the road, the driver of the car must take the machine apart as rapidly as possible and conceal the parts in the bushes.
Fortunately for us all, the farmers were not able to get their views generally accepted.