Henry Ford’s most famous quote is often used to bolster the argument that innovation cannot be focus-grouped:
If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.
It is certainly a wonderful quote. But unfortunately, there’s no evidence that Henry Ford actually uttered those famous words. Patrick Vlaskovits, in a great Harvard Business Review blog post — Henry Ford, Innovation, and That “Faster Horse” Quote — does the due diligence to track down the source of this quote and determine its veracity, which he was unable to do. He also offers a brilliant lesson for innovators and entrepreneurs in finding the right balance between not allowing yourself to be dictated to by the potentially unthinking masses, and ignoring your customers completely. Vlaskovits explicitly advocates “continually testing your vision against reality,” something Mr. Ford failed to do.