As he became the first person to walk on the moon, astronaut Neil Armstrong spoke the now-famous words, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” While NASA was busy designing new technology for the space race, they were inadvertently creating many products that are now common here on Earth – solar energy, water filters, even invisible braces! Branch Rickey, a Hall of Fame baseball manager, would often say “luck is the residue of design.” Sometimes, groundbreaking innovations happen by mere accident, but more often, they are the product of problem-solving and hard work. Here are a few cool breakthroughs in equipment and construction:
- In the 1830s, Midwest farmers had trouble furrowing through prairie soil, so a local blacksmith – John – fashioned a steel plow for them. In 1839, he built 10 plows. Today, John Deere is the largest agricultural machinery manufacturer in the world.
- In 1904, a manufacturer – Benjamin – attached planks to his tractor on a continuous track so it could drive through mud. Someone mentioned the machine moved like a certain insect. Today, Caterpillar Inc. is an industry leader in construction.
- In 1956, a turkey farmer asked a couple of repairmen – brothers Louis and Cyril – to build a lightweight loader he could maneuver in his barn. The brothers’ decision to market the machine launched the compact equipment industry. Their company is now called Bobcat and it still produces the famous skid steer loaders.
“We want to be groundbreaking” is easy to say, but harder to accomplish. Every business wants to develop goals, systems, and outcomes that lead their industry in innovation. But many forget that those aspirations are deeply rooted in the simple act of breaking ground. I’m talking about sticking a shovel into the dirt and grinding out the progress. Trailblazing leaders don’t usually intend to change the world, but with determination and focus to solve problems and meet needs, they often end up doing just that.
If you want to make groundbreaking innovations, it’s essential to set high goals for your business. However, it is equally as important to dig into the daily process of making progress happen. Along the way, you will likely be forced to generate new solutions to emerging problems or develop alternative ways of doing things. Through all that industrious hard work, you may just look up and discover your small steps have been giant leaps for the industry.
In what area of industry would you like to be groundbreaking?? Let us know in the comments below!!