Timing is everything

I had a really tough childhood. 

At one point me, my brother and sister had to wash our hair in car shampoo and condition it with car wax. Lucky for my sister and I long greasy hair was fashionable.  Its a shame but all the men looked creepy then. 

Our tresses were the result of a 1970s American ‘Golden Products’ pyramid selling scam that my father fell victim to.

 We had a cellar full of highly concentrated detergents from shampoo to washing liquid to car wax – the first ever biodegradable detergents manufactured commercially. I blame the Good Life sitcom that every suburban couple in the 70’s aspired to – especially my Mum and Dad in up and coming South Croydon. 

Even positive thinking and Billy Graham style brainwashing coupled with cheese and wine parties (think Liebfraumilch -Abigail’s party) wouldn’t shift the bottles of Golden Products. People were just too closed minded they didn’t think worrying a bout pollution was a problem (most people don’t even now).  As a family we had a whole decade’s worth to work our way through. 

Our mustard coloured Morris Marina didn’t show the dirt enough to warrant washing and waxing more that once a week (had to keep up with the neighbours and there was almost nothing else to do in the 1970’s) hence those bottles lasted until 1978 – blighting my teenage years.

So what has this got to do with anything you say? 

Like me he was eccentric and childlike even in his later years. He had no shame. When we went on holiday, my dad couldn’t swim so he wore orange fluorescent armbands into his 50’s – featured centre photo here: 


He was the epitome of an embarrassing parent. A figure of fun – which he embraced.
Exactly what my children now recognise in me. You reap what you sow.


But now I realise he was perhaps ‘disruptive’, ‘visionary’ and 30 years before his time. 

Biodegradable detergents only became widely available in the 2000s even though the problems with detergent pollution were known by 1966. 

So if you come up with an amazing idea but you can’t get anyone interested – its not you – its just they have other priorities and are thinking shorter term. This is what is slowing innovation. I know you are impatient – you’ll have to wait for the time to be right. Or does society now need to catch up with the fastest thinkers? 

In one case I waited 8 years for everything to fall into place for a revolutionary software project – and then it went like a dream with full engagement from stakeholders and rapid results. The organisation missed out on 8 years of savings and improved services.

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