Tag Archives: Innovation

A new good idea

Do you have trouble selling your ideas?

Dr Myron Tribus learned about this problem in the mid 1940s. His insights may give you courage.

Here is a story Myron told me several years ago.

Irving Langmuir (1881-1957) was awarded a Nobel prize in Chemistry in 1932. During his life he created a long string of diverse inventions in the fields of physics and chemistry.

In 1944 Myron became interested in Langmuir’s work on cloud seeding – precipitating changes in structures within clouds, with the possibility of making rain.

When Myron failed in his attempt to attract¬†the interest of the US military in Langmuir’s work, Langmuir told Myron:

The hardest thing in the world to sell is a new good idea.
If it is new, people will not understand it.
If it is good, they will feel they must act on it.
But, if they are to act on it they will have to learn and they will have to change their ways.
And they simply don’t want to do that.

Myron went on to explain:

You present people with a new idea, and their first reaction is ‘this will change things and I am comfortable with what exists’.

I have found this to be true. My life has been spent in bringing new ideas in. In fact, I have been accused of being the kind of person who always seeks something that’s different. I won’t agree with that, but certainly when somebody comes to me with a new idea and I can sense the importance of it then I get behind it. Apparently, that’s a minority view.


Read Myron’s acclaimed paper The Germ Theory of Management.