AS I watch many startups crumbling, I’ve realized quite often they all started with brilliant ideas then fell into the trap of borrowing and pumping in money instead of pumping in ideas as they went along.
When NASA began the launch of astronauts into space, they found that the pens wouldn’t work at zero gravity; ink didn’t flow down to the writing surface. In order to solve this problem, it took them one decade $12 million and they finally developed a pen that worked at zero gravity. And what did Russians do? The Russians used a pencil!
One of the most memorable case studies on Japanese management was the case of the empty soap box, which happened in one of Japan’s biggest cosmetics companies. The company received a complaint that a consumer had bought a soap box that was empty. Immediately the authorities isolated the problem to the assembly line, which transported all the packaged boxes of soap to the delivery department. For some reason, one soap box went through the assembly line empty.
Management asked its engineers to solve the problem. Post-haste, the engineers worked hard to devise an X-ray machine with high resolution monitors manned by two people to watch all the soap boxes that passed through the line to make sure they were not empty. No doubt, they worked hard and they worked fast but they spent a lot of time and money to find a solution.
But when a rank-and-file employee in a small company was posed with the same problem, he did not get into complications of X-rays, etc. instead he came out with another solution. He bought a strong industrial electric fan and pointed it at the assembly line. He switched the fan on, and as each soap box passed the fan, it simply blew the empty boxes out of the line.
Both these instances are about simple solutions when people thought outside the box. A box is the lines we draw round our thinking. Parameters we place round ideas. It’s like a person who wants to remodel his flat and walks in and looks at bedrooms with walls all around, while my dad an interior designer saw no walls. He taught me to break the walls in my mind and create designs from endless space.
When you think let your mind roam free, break down walls which limit the solution and let the sky be the limit to the answer to a problem. People who do this are called ingenious, they look at you puzzled and ask, “but it was so simple!” The Russian’s pencil and the rank and file employee’s fan were simple, so simple, because they thought out of the box. Start doing so yourself and watch solutions to problems coming along. Learn to think outside the box..!