RIA’s document, which I recommend checking out in full here, is a difficult read at times. It’s nice to think that the best ideas will change the world and maybe make people a small fortune in the process. RIA’s report is a reminder that although this can happen, it likely doesn’t happen as much as everyone would like.
Innovation is important, but delivering it can be difficult. One thing that stands out to me most in the document is this passage: “for each innovation success story, there are many which have fallen by the wayside through no fault of their own, and each one of them could have brought positive change to our industry.”
It’s easy to think of business as being the survival of the fittest, but what if the weather is unseasonably frosty? What if your idea takes you onto terrain where nothing can possibly grow? In those scenarios, promising ideas stagnate, and they die. For every failed concept that would have benefited rail, there’s at least heartbreak. But we have to remember there’s a real risk when any type of business concept fails.
That’s why I think a grounded look at innovation is perfectly timed here by RIA. It would be easy to suggest that we wait for fair weather, but now is when we must prepare the ground – following the storm of COVID-19, the threat of climate change, and the shifting of ground from Network Rail to GBR – to make sure that as many of the best ideas grow in a warmer, more welcoming environment.
Conrad Emmett, editor of Rail Insider and Rail Business Daily.