In 2006, Tim Piper created and filmed a 15-second retail commercial for Unilever's Becel margarine to promote heart health. The ad was so popular that it was pulled from airing on television after only two weeks because it had sold out.
The ad shows two people, who appear to be in a hurry, standing on an escalator. When suddenly, the escalator stops—it’s broken. Now, the two people are apparently stuck and unable to step off. One of them begins to call for help, while the other stands there in frustration. They wait a long while until someone finally comes to fix it, and the escalator ultimately brings them up to their destination.
As viewers, we can assess the solution would be to just walk up the broken escalator. But is the solution that obvious, and can we guarantee that we would behave any differently? Sean Godin introduces The Broken Escalator Theory in his book, “What to do When it’s Your Turn, and it’s Always Your Turn.” He explains how walking up the broken escalator may not be as convenient, but the alternative is waiting for someone to come fix it for you.
Let’s say the idea of walking up the escalator does cross your mind. But you’ve never been in this situation before and walking up vs. standing still creates more chances for something unpredictable to happen. What if you trip and fall? What if the escalator collapses altogether? What does happen if you walk up the escalator?
When escalators were first designed in the late 1800s, they were designed to operate in one direction only, either up or down. Recent models, however, can now reverse the escalator to operate in the opposite direction. By the turn of a key, the escalator could either go up or down. The point? If you stood there waiting for someone to come to your rescue, you were more likely to go back down to where you started. The fear of the unknown paralyzes us from taking action. We respond by imagining things to be afraid of because staying where we are feels safer. Seeking discomfort is not only safer, but it is easier than remaining stagnant. Walking up the broken escalator isn’t the riskier option; it just feels risky. In reality, standing still is actually the riskiest thing we can do. As engineers, it is our nature to develop solutions, and we encourage our engineers to approach these solutions with an open mind and not limit themselves to only a conventional approach. Our tagline reads, “Innovating Solutions for You”, and innovation in its very definition is to step into the unknown. By expanding ourselves beyond a technical, methodical approach, we are giving our clients the greatest possible service and reaching our fullest potential as engineers. Innova Technologies fosters a team that welcomes creative solutions and thinking outside-the-box. At Innova, we don't stand still.
At INNOVA Technologies, we take the time to ask the right questions and work as part of an integrated design team to provide our clients with the best and most innovative product possible. Contact us at 702-220-6640