Difference between Focusing on Problems and Focusing on Solutions
When NASA began the launch of astronauts into space, they found out
that the pens wouldn’t work at zero gravity (ink won’t flow down to the
writing surface). To solve this problem, it took them one decade and $12
They developed a pen that worked at zero gravity, upside down,
underwater, in practically any surface including crystal and in a
from below freezing to over 300 degrees C.
And what did the Russians do…?? They used a pencil.
One of the most memorable case studies on Japanese management was the
case of the empty soapbox, which happened in one of Japan’s biggest
cosmetics companies. The company received a complaint that a consumer had bought
a soapbox 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 soapbox went through
the assembly line empty. Management asked its engineers to solve the
Post-haste, the engineers worked hard to devise an X-ray machine with
high-resolution monitors manned by two people to watch all the
soapboxes 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 whoopee amount
to do so.
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., but
instead 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 soapbox passed the fan, it simply blew the empty boxes out of the line.
Moral: Always look for simple solutions.