Thursday, October 21, 2004

Problem or Solution?

Some very interesting stuff!

Focus on solutions not on problems:

Underwater pen: When NASA began the launch of astronauts into space, they found out thatthe pens wouldn't work at zero gravity (Ink won't flow down to the writingsurface). In order to solve this problem, it took them one decade and $12million. They developed a pen that worked at zero gravity, upside down,underwater, in practically any surface including crystal and in atemperaturerange from below freezing to over 300 degrees C. And what did the Russians do?They used a Pencil!Simple intelligence

One of the most memorable case studies I came across on Japanesemanagement was the case of the empty soap box, which happened in one ofJapan's biggest cosmetics companies. The company received a complaint thataconsumer had bought a soap box that was empty. Immediately the authoritiesisolated the problem to the assembly line, which transported all thepackaged 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, theengineers worked hard to devise an X-ray machine with high-resolutionmonitors manned by two people to watch all the soap boxes that passedthrough the line to make sure they were not empty. No doubt, they workedhard and they worked fast but they spent whoopee amount to do so. But when a rank-and-file employee in a small company was posed with thesame problem, did not get into complications of X-rays, etc but insteadcameout with another solution. He bought a strong industrial electric fan andpointed it at the assembly line. He switched the fan on, and as each soapboxpassed the fan, it simply blew the empty boxes out of the line. Keep it small and simple!