Historic Mistakes: Carriers And Presses
In ninth grade, I invented what was supposed to be a ww2-era carrier ship, only I figured “why not make the flight deck diagonal to maximise usage of the deck area?” A friend came up and told me “the angled flight deck is a thing, but it wasn’t invented yet in ww2.” Like… what? It’s a very obvious optimisation.
Later in life I was reading about many-ton presses in industrial settings. Changing the dies in them used to take hours until the Japanese figured out a secret that allowed them to do it in minutes: make the preparations ahead of time. Don’t stop the machine and then go and make all these external preparations. Do them before you stop the machine. That’s what my wife keeps telling me when I cook – and all of industry hadn’t figured it out by the 1960s?
I want to be clear I’m not trying to toot my own horn. I’m at least as fallible as other humans – probably more so. It’s just a sober reminder that sometimes small, simple ideas can be quite good. And it’s important to build organisations that allow fearless experimentation with feedback and validation.