Greetings. In the past week an Israeli entrepreneur named Izhar Gafni has been getting a lot of attention for an invention that could quite literally move the world forward. His cardboard bicycle, build from 95% recycled cardboard (and other recycled materials) and costing $9 to build, could suddenly make transportation affordable for hundreds of millions of low-income people around the world. At a mere $20 each, this bicycle offers a "game-changing" solution to the challenge of mobility in many places.
An experienced designer of automated production processes, Gafni believed in the potential value of unusual and under-appreciated materials. He became excited about the potential of cardboard–a material made out of wood pulp and invented in China more than 600 years ago–and spent four years working to "cancel out the corrugated cardboard's weak structural points." Then he figured out how to form and finish the cardboard into a working and durable bicycle that could be produced and assembled anywhere. This meant that a business would not have to rely on finding places with the cheapest labor. Instead, these bicycles could be built anywhere creating a whole new production model. And they have the added benefits of being environmentally-friendly and requiring little or no maintenance. Initial plans also include creating a motorized "urban bike," a smaller model for children and even low-cost wheelchairs using this new technology.
The cardboard bicycle project is a powerful reminder of how great creativity and determination can be used to build products that make a compelling difference in the world. Which begs the question, what do you and your company know that could be applied to rethinking an important global challenge? And what would happen if all of us took the time to use our best ideas and expertise in ways that could make the world a better, safer, healthier and more mobile place.
We win in business and in life when we apply new and better thinking to problems that really matter. And when we see great possibilities in the ideas and materials that other people throw away.