Hello, I’m Michael Sliwinski, founder of Nozbe - to-do app for business owners and their teams. I write essays, books, work on projects and I podcast for you using #iPadOnly in #NoOffice as I believe that work is not a place you go to, it’s a thing you do. More…

Manual gearboxes - why one-upping doesn’t work


Today I had to bring my wife’s car to a workshop to get her window fixed and in the meantime I was strolling through the car dealership looking at the cars. They were all offered in manual gear transmission… which inspired this blog post. Sometimes we go just in the wrong direction. With our product, with our solution, with our way of thinking. This is what is happening here in Europe with the manual gearbox.

Manual gearboxes - why one-upping doesn’t work

Why should I care about transmission?

I shouldn’t. Yet they want me to. You see, in America they already know that to go from point A to point B you don’t need to care the gear your car is running on. You only need the steering wheel, acceleration pedal and breaks. That’s it. Yet here in Europe they insist we should care about gears and switch them furiously all the time.

“I have more control over my car”

This used to be me saying why I love the manual gearbox. Well, it’s no longer true. The automatic gearboxes are so good these days that they do a better job controlling our cars than we do. My car has a fully automatic gearbox and my wife’s has one too, but also with a “triptronic” kind of gearbox which enables us to switch gears without clutch if we want to. I’ve used it once. Didn’t bother anymore. Automatic is so good.

New evolution: 7 gears in Porsche, 6 Gears in Hyundai…

The problem is with car rentals in Europe. They all come with manual gearboxes. Last time they gave me a Hyundai with 6 gears… which (they say) is an improvement to help the car save more fuel and work better… but between 0-100 km/h (0-60 mph) the car asks me to switch between 6 gears now… instead of 5! So I have more work to do so that the car could save some fuel. Isn’t that ridiculous?

Now even the most prominent car brand in the world which I thought was the most innovative one, too - Porsche - wants to introduce 7-shift gearbox. Really? Is this how we should be going? One-upping each other?

One-upping is not a solution. In any industry.

The point of this post is simple - not to talk just about cars - but to remind us all that one-upping each other is not a solution to a problem. Maybe we should disrupt the industry instead (like explain to us Europeans that automatic transmission is just better?) - just to make things better? It’s like with Gillette brand - their razor will soon have 10 blades (every year there is one more) for maximum shaving efficiency… come on! :-)

Do you find yourself running in circles, too? Do you try to improve by adding more complexity? Where else did you see one-upping totally missing the point?