Stepping ahead or dreaming forward?

This is cowdung. It might just be converted into what makes your morning commute possible. But wait, who still commutes in the age of broadband enabled telecommuters? The latter is obviously more sexier to think about than dung but can we bank on it?

Guys like Richard Branson and Vinod Khosla are now making the PR rounds with initiatives focused on making biofuel production efficient enough to replace fossil fuels. So what about the people who are dreaming up hydrogen fuel cell cars that run on good old H2O? Why aren’t those guys getting the same play?

The reason is more obvious to self made entrepreneurs than academics and innovative thinkers. While revolutionaries dream of disruptive ways of changing the world, evolutionary businesspeople like Branson and Khosla realize that change is rarely an overnight shift.

Change is incremental and there’s are economic proofs needed at every step before the actual shift happens. Don’t believe me, just think of all the things we now think of as “major shifts”. The Internet, automobiles, the printing press seem like revolutions, but just think of how they were adopted into mainstream popularity. Remember dialing up to send an email? My point exactly!

Incremental innovation doesn’t mean that we stop dreaming. In the case of green transportation, we shouldn’t stop questioning whether “cars” are the real answer. It seems to me that better designed cities are far more efficient than efficient cars leading to more paved roads to disrupt already dying ecosystems!

Global change much like personal change needs positive feedback to stick. Change needs both dreams and positive (market) feedback at each step to make a difference. For those of us with goals of creating positive change in the world, its a lesson well worth remembering no matter what the current path smells like.

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