Failing to see the road to the future

Examples of those who fail to see the road to the future are often cited with hilarity. Take Harry Warner of Warner Brothers Studios, who commented in 1927 on the advent of soundtracks for moving pictures: “Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?”

Or take the senior management at Procter & Gamble when the disposable diaper was first suggested. According to diaper business folklore, P&G was conducting market research to find out what housewives liked about their cleaning products for soiled diapers. Inspired by comments of the form, “We don’t like anything about washing diapers,” a P&G team came up with the idea for the disposable diaper. The team set about assessing the opportunity, estimating market volumes, projecting cash flows and profit margins, and preparing a presentation for P&G top management. The latter sat patiently through all the material, reviewed the market projections, and made it clear that they were impressed with all the work the team had done in analyzing the opportunity. “Just one question,” they asked finally, “Where’s the soap?”

Source: Viewpoint From Einstein to Elephants: Unlocking the Innovative Mindset by Geoffrey Marlow | Prism, Issue 3, 1998

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