Switch It

The World Cup starts tomorrow. It’s the greatest sporting event on the planet, in my humble opinion. There is a phrase in soccer – switching it – that refers to moving the ball into a completely different area, usually across the field, to gain time and space. That’s what I want to write about today, prompted by an announcement made yesterday.  It raises a great business point.

According to the Japan Times:

Toyota Motor Corp. plans to begin commercial production of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in mid-December and roll out the next-generation green car by the end of this year, ahead of its earlier target of 2015, sources said Wednesday.

What is that and why is it important?  The car is powered by electricity generated through a chemical reaction of hydrogen and oxygen.  No fossil fuels anywhere.  Initially it is going to cost around $78,000 but the price will come down, hopefully to half of that in 5 years.  That price drop isn’t unusual.  After all, an Apple II was $1,300 in 1977 – that’s around $4,800 today.  When the IBM PC came out in 1981, people still wondered why they’d need a “personal” computer, especially one that cost the equivalent of almost $4,000 today.  Like a hydrogen car, the support system – fuel stations in the case of the car, software in the case f the computers – wasn’t developed.  As the world woke up to the better technology, that support system matured and here we are.

What’s my business point?  Many companies have tried to improve the gas mileage.  Very few – fully electric cars such as Tesla – have thought about changing the paradigm – switching the ball on the field.  Getting off fossil fuels changes everything from global politics to climate.  It’s a big idea.  That’s the kind of thinking that moves businesses forward.  Like soccer players running into a stiff defense, switching the ball – changing the underlying assumptions that drive the thinking – can buy time and space and maybe even result in finding an opening to the goal.

Worth a try?

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