Why Good Ideas Die #81 #cong18


Ideas fail for lots of logical reasons but is there a more sinister reason.

4 Key Takeaways:

  1. Ideas sometime perish due to vested interests
  2. We need to look beyond personal gain to truly realise our potential
  3. Ideas can be circular in nature and good ones can bounce back
  4. Strong leadership and societal change needed

About Billy Kennedy:

Retired claims inspector and mechanic.  Proud father and grandfather.  Late adopter of technology and ever curious mind.

Contacting Billy Kennedy:

Apparently I am on lots of social media platforms courtesy of my family but probably best to email me.

By Billy Kennedy

Whilst reading the other submissions there are lots of common threads about why ideas don’t happen.  Some never left the dreaming phase and suffered due to lack of implementation which is the really hard part.  Some were bad ideas that probably suffered from mental blinkering or were ego led.  Some just suffered from bad timing – too early or too late. Some just did not have the resourcing or did not make economic sense.  Some lacked the leadership or will to make them happen. Some due to external macro forces or a sense of urgency and competed against the continually changing set of priorities.  The list goes on.

After a life time of watching from afar one reason that is deeply hidden in human psychie is the vested interests.  This thorny area is a field day for conspiracy theories but there is evidence of short minded vested interests that frequently are very powerful and can suppress even the best of ideas.  Even ideas that have manifested themselves in robust and seemingly good products.

One such one is the early electric car, which thankfully has now finally moved beyond the early attempts to quash it dominance.

This theme was explored in the 2006 documentary ‘Who Killed the Electric Car’ .  The Wikipedia link gives a full narrative about it and if you have time the YouTube link below is worth reading.

Here’s a short summary or this sort story.  In 1990 5,000 electric cars were designed by a collection of car manufacturers and leased to owners only to be eventually recalled and destroyed.  The rationale was that there was a lack of consumer interest but the more likely and documented reason was the fear of the oil companies and manufacturers about the implications to their business models.  Lots of groups from high ranking politicians were implicated and the testimony of the person who ran the leasing programme about the effectiveness of the car ran contrary to the public statement of the vested interests.

As human beings were are incredibly resourceful but equally destructive.  We welcome change and we equally fear it.  We can destroy ideas, concepts, policies and products because they can seem to threaten our existence.  The strongest motivation tends to be financial but we can tend to continue to embrace bad ideas because the new ones seem alien to us and we feel emotionally bound to something more familiar.  Left to individual interests we are frequently unwilling to bare the possible pain of something new that could have a much wider benefit to society.  Think politics down to local interests.

I am continually amazed to see the impact of strong leadership, political will and the ability to engender support for ideas that can bring people from the extremes back into more moderate views but also dismayed to see how we can be swayed into a train of thinking that is clearly not for the better good.

I do not doubt the human race’s ability to solve big problems with great ideas. Our engineering and creativity grows exponentially every day but the personal survival instinct is so strong that I see that we have a long way to go until we can fully embracing ideas that act in the betterment of all our lives and not just the few.  Maybe its time we exercise personal demons and look at new ideas from a higher shared goal perspective.  I would settle for even acknowledging them as a step forward.

On a different spectrum I have some thoughts on ideas that I personally was fascinated by that never really moved forward, despite their outer appearance of potential and I have never really found good reasons why not.  Included on my personal list are:

Early steam cars.  Over 40 years ago Bolands has a steam car – yes steam – that had no gear box and was powered by fire.  The carbide lamp that powered my fathers push bike light almost a century ago.  The hydrogen car (early ones were akin to a ticking bomb with later hydrogen blocks have more potential).  Micro hydro generators on rivers replacing defunct mills.

And finally we live in a cyclical world.  We tore up trams only to spend billions putting the lines back in.  My childhood memories are full of electric laundry trucks and milk delivery floats, only to be replaced by polluting equivalents and now the return back to electric.

I am conscious that complex factors were to play with many of my examples but I firmly believe that we need to evolve as a species to truly make the most of the ideas that our incredible race is able to produce.

On a more upbeat closing note here are some quirky ideas that never caught on.