Game of Thrones and a lesson for engineers
As a discerning TV viewer, I'm a big fan of Game of Thrones. It could have been so different, though. Mrs Simms recorded the first season on series link, but we put off starting watching for weeks thinking that maybe we'd just delete it, and only gave the first episode a try when we were running dangerously low on box space. But just a couple of episodes in, we were hooked.
Described as a brutal fantasy with mass appeal, Game of Thrones is a compelling mix of murder, mystery and monsters. At the end of the first season, there was no way I was going to be able to wait a year for the second, so I dived into the books, reading the whole lot within a couple of months - well, the first five anyway, because we're still waiting on author George RR Martin to write the final two.
No matter where you are and what company you're in, Game of Thrones is a popular topic of conversation. Mrs Simms and I were in a popular Asian-fusion restaurant one day - the one where everyone sits alongside each other on benches. Great food, but not the place to go if you want to hold a private conversation. A young couple were sat next to us; I don't think this was their first date, but judging by the way they danced around the splitting of the bill at the end of their meal, I'm guessing they hadn't been going out for very long.
For most of the time I was able to block out their overtures towards each other, but when they started talking Game of Thrones it was very difficult not to listen in. At one point, they started discussing a possible plot line for two of the key characters. Not going to happen, I thought to myself. He's dead, she's not coming back.
And so it has been for the last couple of years. I have sat back and basked in the glory of my superior knowledge. But now something bad has happened. The rest of the world has caught up, and they've already started postulating and hypothesising about where things are going. I've been left behind. Worse still, some of the theories that I had dismissed earlier as being clearly wrong (because he's dead and she's not coming back) might actually possible, because in Game of Thrones there are ways and means.
I admit it; I've rested on my laurels and I've stagnated. It'll be tough to kick on from here because I've almost got to start from scratch, go back into the literature and look for the clues I missed, try to plot a different best-fit line through the data and come up with something completely new. But with so many great ideas and so much alternative thinking around me, maybe I've already left it too late.
This must be how it felt to be part of the British motor industry in the 1970s, when a flood of lower priced, better specified, more reliable products rushed in. And it's a lesson we have to make sure we learn the second time around. There will always be innovative new products coming to market; there will always be emerging economies; there will always be pressures to close the gap between concept and commercialisation.
There is no option to stand still; indeed, in many sectors we have to run just to keep up, and if we want to get ahead then we have to run faster. So I urge you to learn the lesson from Game of Thrones; don't make the mistake that I now rue - instead make innovation an integral part of the culture of your business.
Mark Simms, Editor
Industrial Technology - NEWS