Inspiring Innovation by Giles Lury includes 75 marketig tales to help you find the next big thing. Today, we hear about Elisha Otis who truly believed in his innovation, to the point where he put his life on the line to prove its potential success.
Elisha Otis truly believed in his innovation, as he was to prove in May 1854 at New York’s Crystal Palace, the main exhibition hall of America’s first World’s Fair. Standing on top of a hoisting platform, high above the crowds in the grand exhibition hall, he called for everyone’s attention. As the heads turned around and up, he swung an axe.
As the sharp blade cut through the rope supporting the platform, the platform began to fall. Shocked silence fell over the hall. But the platform only dropped a few inches, and then came to a stop. “All safe, gentlemen!” Elisha announced to the crowd. The inventor’s faith in his own revolutionary safety brake had been justified.
Elisha had invented the safety elevator two years earlier, in 1852. He’d solved the problem of suspension rope failure that plagued the elevators of that time with a device of his own design called the Otis Safety Brake (the equivilent of the modern safety gear). In the event of rope failure, a spring woudl force a ratchet to engage wit sawtooth iron bars, stopping and securing the car.
However, he had only sold three up through 1853. Early 1854 was no better, so he decided he would have to do something more radical to promote his invention. And so, he purchased a display at the upcoming Crystal Palace Exhibition.
After his potentially life-threatening showm, not only had his faith in his ionvention been demonstrated but he was to get the commercial rewards he had sought. He sold seven through the remainder of 1854 and another 15 in 1855.
Otis is still the world’s leading lift compnay and it has installed elevators in some of the world’s most famous structyres, including the Eiffel Tower, Empire State Building, the original World Trade Center, and the Skylon Tower at Niagara Falls. Many credit his invention as a crucial step in the development in skyscrapers, as it enabled architects and their buildings to reach higher and higher.
All this because Elisha Otis truly believed in his idea… and was willing to put his life on the line to prove it.
SPARKPOINT: Innovation can call for real commitment
The best ideas can come from the most unusual and unexpected sources. In this book, leading brand consultant and author Giles Lury presents 75 stories of extraordinary innovation, as well as the many and varied sources of inspiration, that led to companies developing highly successful products and brands.
With tales covering brands including Angry Birds, Diners Club, Fanta, Netflix, Viagra, Victoria’s Secret and AirBnB, you will find out how one size does not fit all, and that ideas can be sparked by anything and everything – from anger to embarrassment, from people watching to biomimicry (borrowing ideas from the natural world). Ultimately, this book is a call for disruption and deviance and provides original tips and techniques to help you in your search for the next big thing.
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