“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
We’ve all been in conversations on the topics of creativity and innovation when Henry Ford’s most famous adage is (excuse the pun) trotted out, usually accompanied by a knowing smirk and air of self-evidence. Battle lines are quickly drawn. One side vehemently argues the merits of innovating vis-à-vis customer feedback; the other argues that true innovation is created by singularly gifted visionaries who ignore customer input and instead manufacture innovation based solely on their prophetic vision for a better future.
Having grown weary of both sides of the debate, I was curious; did Ford utter those words? And what did they mean for the early days of the Ford Motor Company, and by extension, for entrepreneurs looking to learn about how to innovate?