With the rapid pace of technological change, it can be easy to think that disruption in business is a recent phenomenon. Yet a look into the history books proves otherwise, with some valuable insights.
Paul Cave, serial entrepreneur and founder of BridgeClimb Sydney, which operates climbs up the Sydney Harbour Bridge, explains that the history of the bridge itself demonstrates that disruption has long been a part of human history and evolution.
“When you think about 1926 when we built that bridge, there was only a million people in Sydney. They had 50 million people crossing Sydney Harbour by ferry in the year the bridge was opened … that total ferry industry was disrupted overnight when the bridge opened,” he says.
Yet instead of leading to the death of ferries on Sydney Harbour, the ferry and boating industry on the harbour – both public and now private – has adapted to cater to a broader range of destinations, and offered larger and smaller group travel options as well as leisure craft.
Conversely though, disruption has the potential to leave long-lasting effects well beyond a project’s intended capabilities.
“Back then, [the Sydney Harbour Bridge] was built light years ahead of its time, and it’s still today – and will for many years to come – be something that’s an inspirational thing in terms of what’s feasible,” says Paul.
“That bridge was built with eight lanes of traffic: it’s still the widest car-carrying bridge in the world today!”
The moral of the story? Being forward-thinking rather than short-termist, just like the bridge designers, can deliver long-lasting productivity and user benefits. Likewise, when a big piece of iron threatens to ground your boat, look for other ways you can deliver value to your customers!
Hear more insights from Paul on the history of the iconic Harbour Bridge and his massive 10-year journey to get BridgeClimb off the ground on the My Business Podcast below:
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.