From Gillette to Tesla

From Gillette to Tesla


Know the divergent thinking or why insiders were unable to anticipate change.

""There are clouds on the horizon of thought and the same air we breathe is permeated with life that predicts the birth of a wonderful change".

The author of the phrase is King Camp Gillette, the inventor of the disposable razor blade. At the end of the 19th century, this invention meant a revolution in the product, making it for the first time a disposable and cheaper blade. It was not a path of roses: he had to work ten years on his idea before carrying it out. As he said, "I knew little about razor blades and virtually nothing about steel, so I could not foresee the difficulties I was going to go through before the razor blade was a success. But I believed in it ... I didn't know enough to quit. If I had technical training, I would have abandoned or probably not started".

This is the basis of divergent thinking. Divergent is what diverges, disagrees or separates from the norm. Then the divergent thinking, also called lateral thinking, consists in the search for alternatives, or creative and different possibilities from the usual ones, for the resolution of a problem.

Today the Gillette business model (cheap razors and disposable blades) is found in printers (manufacturer makes money with cartridges), also on the PlayStation (whose manufacturing cost is higher than its price: Sony makes money with video games) and more recently in Nespresso (the business is based on selling capsules).

From Gillette to Tesla

Divergent thinking is behind great paradigm shifts. None of the major mobile manufacturers in 2000 announced the arrival of the smartphone. Precisely because they were specialists (insiders) from the previous model, and they did not know another reality for years. This is a constant in innovation: specialists of a business model are unable to see another reality. Technological breakthroughs are never easily anticipated. It was an outsider in the world of telephony, Apple, who came to revolutionize it with a whole new approach.

The ideas that cause a paradigm shift are disruptive innovations. They are innovations that affect a certain industry in such a way that they make it change drastically and can even make the manufacturers, products and services that were part of the market disappear from it.

In this sense, the IDC consultancy has published an analysis in which it compares the evolution of sales of these types of devices, as well as their prices and market shares of each brand. We see perfectly how there has been a change between the first part of this century and the last years. While at the beginning of the century it was Nokia that had a dominant position, and it could seem to us that its leadership in the sector was unbeatable, now the picture is radically different and its market share is practically testimonial. The fact is that the arrival of the smartphone has meant an overwhelming tsunami for the sector and its insiders.


From Gillette to Tesla

Something similar could happen in the car market. In April 2016, Tesla announced the first electric car comparable in performance to combustion cars. The first week he received 276,000 orders. In addition, its value proposition adds the fact of being autonomous, embracing the capabilities that AI brings us. This, combined with the rise of mobile platforms, such as Uber (whose stock market value is already higher than General Motors) and the new lifestyles of the millennial generation (much more used to rent instead of buying) can mean a unprecedented change in a sector with more than a century of history.

The change is already taking place: in 2007, 325,114 people between 18 and 20 years old obtained the driver's license. 10 years later, in 2017, only 195,072 people obtained the driving license in that age group.

From Gillette to Tesla

In a few years, we may be subscribing to a service company that will meet our mobility needs. Every day, at the desired time, a vehicle without a driver will come to pick us up promptly at home. The control center of our mobility company will assign us a route, and will take us in the most efficient way, recalculating the route if necessary and thus eliminating traffic jams. Traffic lights will not be necessary, as vehicles will function as a large connected network. We will not worry about pricks, because in the event of an incident, another vehicle from the same company will pick us up. Nor will we worry about parking, because the vehicle will go to look for the next customer or, when there is no demand, to refuel at the base.

Inside, these robocars will be as an extension of our office, or our entertainment center. This summer, Elon Musk said on Twitter that the Tesla will be able to stream Netflix and YouTube.

Possibly, this is the immediate future of the automobile sector. Within the sector, there will be insiders who will not anticipate it. But whatever it is, as Josep M. Coll and Xavier Ferrás affirm in their futuristic book "The Economy of Happiness", our grandchildren will be surprised and believe that the fact of buying noisy gasoline cars and storing them in parking lots or on the street was an unusual neolithic practice.