Setbacks; blessings in disguise

Sooner or later any company and any team is faced with setbacks. You might loathe it, but things are just not always looking bright. But not to worry, the famous Dutch football player Johan Cruijff was right when he said “Elk nadeel heb z’n voordeel.” (“Every drawback has its benefit.”)

Every time you are faced with a setback, be aware of the great opportunities it presents. When shit truly hits the fan, there often is no way back. The only thing you can do is move forward.

Drawbacks provide great opportunities as they force you to come up with new ideas. The old approach led you to this unfortunate outcome, so it’s time for a new way of doing things. It’s time to change.

Volcano-led innovation
In 1815 the eruption of volcano Tambora in Indonesia led to enormous setbacks. The disastrous eruption led to the ‘year without summer’ and as a result crops failed world-wide. In Europe transportation became problematic as there was barely any food left for the pack- and draft animals.

Inventor Karl Drais recognised the opportunity this presented. He developed a vehicle that didn’t need animals: the ‘dandy horse’ (or ‘draisienne’). The design was remarkably simple: two wheels connected by a wooden frame, on which the ‘driver’ could sit. The vehicle was propelled by the rider, pushing himself forward with his legs touching the ground like one would while running.

Draisienne or Dandy horse, the predecessor of the bicycle.

Primitive as this design may look next to our carbon-fiber mountain bikes of today, it was revolutionary in it’s day. The dandy horse could reach a respectable speed of up to 20 kilometres per hour (or 12,4 mph). The draisienne soon became a popular way of transportation and can be identified as the forerunner of the bicycle.

The next time you encounter a serious drawback, remind yourself that this misery forces you to come up with something new. Setbacks lead to change and propel innovation.

What setbacks are you faced with this week and how can you use them to make progress?

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