3 October 2012
Vision is great until it runs headlong into cold hard reality.
That’s my take-away from the news today that Shai Agassi, co-founder of battery-infrastructure company Better Place, was pushed aside as CEO.
Agassi and Better Place have benefited from amazing publicity, and, to a great degree, communal hope. His articulate and passionate vision for the future fits nicely with our hope that today’s technology will fix tomorrow’s problems.
But today’s technology needs an infrastructure to be successful and that infrastructure needs to be grounded in the human experience.
As I wrote on EE Times:
“…Electric vehicles, while cool and hip, are new to the human experience when it comes to their infrastructure.
Those on the road today are sensitive to the notion and they’re still struggling.
What’s not to like about a Nissan Leaf or Chevrolet Volt that can plug into any outlet? Plenty, which is why their sales are lousy. A 120V charge takes forever and there are few if any $15,000-a-pop fast charging stations in most communities. General Motors engineers were so sensitive to the infrastructure situation that they built a gas-powered backup engine to take those range (and use-case) worries
off the table.”
In everyday life, this is where the engineering team wrestles management, and it’s a fundamental part of the innovation tension.