It’s About Time!!

28 08 2009

(based on an idea by Joel Barker)

Here is a story for those who have more than a passing interest in time.


About 400 years ago there was a battle over time.  You see, it was around the 1600’s when the first pocket watch was introduced.  Now people had time on their hands. But there were many who thought clocks were meant to be in towers, not in trousers.  Perhaps it was because the first model was the size and shape of a lemon.  For the stylish gentleman this meant the convenience of knowing the precise time but did create a rather unsightly bulge in his trousers.


As time passed, it became the fashion to spend time designing thinner watches.  Watch designers worked around the clock and even put in overtime in this race against time to create the thinnest watch.  By the 1700’s the French and British compressed the timepiece to 1 2 inches thick.  One hundred years later they squeezed the mechanism to : of an inch.  By 1850 manufacturers bottomed out at 3 of an inch.  You could say they were pressed for time.  Surprisingly this is still the thickness of most watches today.


As thinness reached its limit, the watch industry started to rotate the crank turning the gears of price and performance; lower price, more accuracy, lower price, more accuracy.  But, like clockwork, a new battle was about to begin.  It was only a matter of time when the pendulum would swing to a new battlefront.


Allow me to explain.  Before WWII the Swiss owned 90% of the watch market.  And even up to 1968 they still enveloped most of the world market share.  But time was running out for the Swiss. In ten years their corner on the market plummeted to almost nothing and they even had to release most of their workers.  This was the original time release formula of downsizing.  What happened?  What time bomb hit the Swiss?  They themselves were enveloped and wrapped up in their old way of thinking.  You might say that they were stitched in time.


A new nation soon dominated the watch making industry.  In the past this nation was unknown for watches.  But now Japan led the watch industry.  How could the Swiss, who controlled watch making for the entire 20th century, known for excellence and innovation, experience such a timely demise?  Were they just killing time?  What was the key to the failure of the Swiss and the success of Japan?


 The answer was profoundly simple.  The Swiss were put back to ground zero by a paradigm shift — a paradigm gear shift. Many of you are wearing this paradigm shift on your wrist right now if you took time to put them on.  The quartz movement watch is totally electronic using only one moving part.  It is one thousand times more accurate, more versatile and even thinner than the mechanical watch.


Who made time to invent this wonderful idea of using Quartz crystals for time keeping?  Some of you already know the answer.  The Quartz crystal watch was invented by the Swiss themselves in Neuchatel at their research laboratories. But when the researchers presented this idea to their manufacturers they were closed to the idea.  Their minds were locked. How did the engineers feel about this rejection?  I bet it really ticked them off.  I bet they really wanted to clean their clock.


They may have heard the manufacturers say these timeless killer phrases:

“It doesn’t have any gears to mesh with what we have always done”,

“We don’t have time for this”,

“This won’t wind up anywhere”,

“What a waste of time”,

“It just doesn’t tick”.


So confident were they, so locked in their mental box — in their Aparabox. They didn’t protect their idea.  They were not watching out for the possible time change.  They must have been Ahalf past out.  Texas instruments of America and Seiko of Japan took one look and the rest was history.  You see, they made the time.  For them it was good time management, perfect timingTime was definitely on their side.  They were having the time of their lives.  They were on a Rollex.


But for the Swiss . . . they had no time share in this.  And now they were living on borrowed time.  Things were winding down.  Soon their time would be up.  Yes, they were out of time.  They couldn’t beat the clock. They took a licking, and kept on ticking. They virtually disappeared from the marketplace.  They were locked in their old way of thinking — in a box, in a time capsule.  They refused to set their clocks to one of the biggest changes in the history of timekeeping. They were trying to make time stand still.  But you can’t turn back the clock when times change.  The rules had changed.  Not even the best watchmakers of the world could stop time.  They couldn’t call time out to progress.


There is a message here for all of us for all time that will help us remember the moral of this timely parable . . . that will help us be more clockwise. Don’t let old timeworn paradigms imprison your ideas in a box like serving time in a prison cage!! We need to break through the walls to create new ideas and not be behind the times.  Only then can we spring open the doors to the future and get outside of the paradigm box!!!



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