Faster Horse Problem?

People often credit Henry Ford with this quote:  “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”  The intentional meaning in the quote is that customers don’t always know what they want, but a product should be designed instead for what they need.  With experience design focus and observation, you may create  precisely what customers need and will purchase while addressing root causes.

One major issue with the authenticity of the quote is that Henry Ford never said this.  There is no existence of a qualified reference back to Ford.  Most now believe that the simplified problem that Ford worked to solve became a beneficial, but parallel innovation that in turn solved the horse problem.  Ford intentionally solved a transportation problem with an innovative accessibility option that no one had ever considered.  His solution wasn’t to solve the horse problem and certainly not a faster horse, it was the creation of a transportation option.  The scaled affordability of a transportation option for the masses with established financing options addressed the root cause of his identified problem.

So now we know that Ford really wasn’t trying at all to solve the late 1800’s horse problem with over 100,000 horses in New York City alone.  In New York City in 1898, over 40 horse died and needed to be removed each day.  Their horse problem “deepened” each day with over 1,200 metric tons of horse sh*t needing to be collected and removed.  There were of course fly problems, odor problems and disease problems associated with the horses as the transportation problem.  Very real problems, but apparently not a referenced and originating root cause with Ford.

How will the oil and gas problems of automobiles be solved in our generation.  Are electric cars a root cause problem solver?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s