New Does Not Always Mean Better: Scale Lessons from Hovercraft
40 years ago, a revolutionary new form of transport was launched.
It was tested using a cat food tin inside a coffee tin, with an industrial air blower and a pair of kitchen scales.
I’ll forever remember my excitement seeing it as a youngster emerging through the spray; a UFO wearing a black rubber skirt.
Described as ‘third speedboat, third aeroplane, third bouncy castle’, the world was introduced to the Hovercraft.
- It whisked passengers to France in less than 30 minutes – an hour quicker than most ferries.
- It didn’t require the building of a pier or port, and disembarkation was quick.
- It felt glamourous with its airline-styled crew.
- A triumph of British invention; it was dubbed the Concorde of the Sea sand even appeared in several James Bond films.
Yet, whilst it was seen as the future it NEVER caught on as a mainstream mode of transport, and by 2000, the cross-Channel service closed.
- Initially, the government classified hovercraft as “airborne” rather than “seagoing”, so had strict requirements on operating hours.
- The craft had a limited capacity of 52 cars.
- It was noisy, cramped and compared unfavourably to facilities on conventional ferries.
- Rough seas made for feelings of airsick and
- It was excruciatingly noisy for residents.
- Larger ferries, cheaper-to-power catamarans and the Channel Tunnel eventually proved too much competition.
One worker summed it up succinctly:
“They were ahead of their time but now they are beyond their time.”
This may seem like an extreme example, but my message remains strong…
Whether you’re working on your processes, systems, business model, products, services …there will always be new, but new DOES NOT always mean better.
As a fellow entrepreneur, I understand how easy it is to get distracted by a shiny new tool, or the “next big thing.” I’m not saying curb your creativity or curiosity – that makes you, you!
Making significant improvements in your business doesn’t need to be complicated. It can more often than not be a case of taking some time out to review, then making some simple tweaks to existing processes or services that you already have that are actually working well.
The Scalability Coach | Britain’s Top 10 Adviser 2018 | Author of #1 bestseller I don’t work Fridays | Ex-CEO of a PLC