Simple ideas work best

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Credit: Image courtesy of KTH The Royal Institute of Technology
Credit: Image courtesy of KTH The Royal Institute of Technology

A new, simple solution for traffic congestion in many cities could be an ancient transportation mode – the boat.

Researchers in Sweden, at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology, are supporting a strong case on how water buses could be integrated into Stockholm’s mass transport system.

ScienceDaily reports that the Waterway 365 project shows that water buses could reduce the load on land-based transit without doing harm to the environment. Urban water buses would complement trains and buses.

Stockholm is a city composed of islands which is a natural for the concept of water transit.

But what about other areas in the world?

We know about canal cities such as Suzhou, China, Delft, Netherlands, Birmingham, England, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Gold Coast City, Australia, Venice, Italy and the Mopti, Mali. Could these concepts be expanded and adapted there?

Whether urban planners in other major cities would take interest in advancing this old form of transport is another question.

The researchers believe that boats should contribute something, not compete with other parts of collective traffic. They say water transport could create an opportunity to increase bicycle commuting volumes. It’s also easier to load bikes on and off boats than buses.

When we think of innovation we might picture new technology, inventions and product patents. But new ideas may be simple such as the concept of reintroducing and expanding water-based transport. Sometimes a new idea or concept just has to be better, faster, easier and cheaper for it to work and catch on.

New ideas that work best are simple. A small entrepreneurial idea may come from many sources. Peter Drucker in “Innovation and Entrepreneurship” says change always provides opportunity for the new and different. “The overwhelming majority of successful innovations exploit change.”

Drucker offers seven sources for innovative opportunity. Four of them lie within a company and industry or service sector. The other three set of sources for innovative opportunity involve changes outside the company or industry.

The four source areas are:

– the unexpected
– the incongruity
– innovation based on process need
– changes in industry structure or market structure

Sources involving change outside the company or industry:

– demographics (which means population changes)
– changes in perception, mood, and meaning
– new knowledge (here included are both scientific and nonscientific)

Successful entrepreneurs, Drucker says, don’t wait until inspiration gives them a “bright idea”: they go to work. “Those entrepreneurs who start out with the idea that they’ll make it big – and in a hurry – can be guaranteed failure. They are almost bound to do the wrong things.”

That’s why Drucker says, “Every great business starts with a small entrepreneurial idea”.

Just think about it for a moment. Some of the most successful and profitable ideas have been the most simple.

Think about overnight delivery courier services. What about outlets that provide fresh gourmet coffee (now an international brand). Easy to download music from an online platform. A farmer whose back is against the wall and whose wife decides to turn the farm into an exclusive country get away.

As Leonardo da Vinci said: “Simplicity is the highest perfection”.

Simple ideas are still the best.

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