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2011 Agricultural Machinery Conference report: Ag equipment innovation difficult

In downtown Waterloo today, automotive designer Clyde Foles spoke before a crowd of 300 agricultural engineers on the topic “Innovation: Why does it seem so difficult.” Foles is the professor who teamed up with sprayer manufacturer Hagie to create the unique design of its new STX sprayer, launched last fall. (See "New Hagie STX10 self-propelled, 1,000-gal. sprayer.")

Even though he was addressing engineers attending the 2011 Agricultural Machinery Conference, his message can be applied to any industry, including farming.

Foles, professor of transportation design at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, defined innovation as “something new or different introduced.” The main barriers to achieving it are fear, ignorance, and complacency.

“Complacency is smug satisfaction with the existing situation,” he says. “Real innovators pay no attention to barriers.

“Some innovations fail,” he continues. “But the key takeaway is that change is going to happen anyway.”

So what’s the key to achieve innovation? The answer, he says, is vision, which he defines as the act of anticipating that which will or may come to be.

“My suggestion to you? Hire an 8-year old kid,” he says. “They have a less clouded view of what the future could be. If not a kid, at least hire outside your usual limits."

Good points to keep in mind for anyone who wants to remain competitive in the industry of agriculture.  

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