“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Is a quote attributed to the father of assembly line manufacturing, Henry Ford.
It is believed that Henry Ford never said this quote. Nonetheless, we will discuss this quote for the wisdom it holds.
If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses
The quote can be seen as absurd and logical at the same time. Let me explain …
If I had asked people what they wanted. It makes sense that people would want a better version of a product they already know and are already used to. If you ask a population, you would get an answer that is the reflection of the common man, not the dreamer nor the innovator. Add to that, the time context this quote is supposed to have originated in. Thus, you see why it makes sense to ask for faster horses. It is like if you ask people now, if they want faster cars, while the future might be underground tunnels cars.
People want faster horses. It is indeed absurd to ask for an incremental improvements, when you can instead innovate and revolutionize the market. Innovation is not easy, and innovation is not always the best solution, but innovation should always be an approach to consider.
Without innovation, we would still be hunter gatherers … Fire was an innovation, the agriculture revolution in Mesopotamian was an innovation, the alphabet in Phoenicia was an innovation …
Furthermore, people resist change. Thus any innovation would be faced with skepticism before being eventually adopted.