Creative Problem Creation

Problems get a bad rap. We’re all clear on the negativity around problems, but we don’t appreciate their positive character. It’s time we use their powers for good.

One of the least popular characteristics of problems is their selfishness. Like the friend who shows up for dinner unannounced, problems, left to their own, care only about their calendar. But to overcome this shortcoming and harness their energy, we can create them to fit our time table.

An important strong suit of problems is their ability to create focus. When the VP has a problem, everybody has a problem. And it’s this persuasive power of problems that focuses the organization on a solution – resources, alignment, and creativity on demand.

I propose we bring problems to life on our own terms to create new thinking; to creatively fabricate problems to generate laser-focused thinking in the direction of our choice; to imagine what could be and create the right problems to get us there. Creativity on demand.

The most provocative and productive problems to manufacture are those that remove inherent goodness of your products or that outlaw their physical fundamentals. Like putting your thumb over a hose, these problems spray high velocity thinking in unpredictable directions. Here are some examples:

  1. Big coffee pot can make only one cup – single-cup brewer industry.
  2. Speedboats cannot carry multiple passengers – personal water craft industry.
  3. Lights must illuminate only a small area – LED proliferation.
  4. Sturdy running shoes must be floppy – bare foot running shoe movement.
  5. Desktop computers must be mobile – laptop industry.
  6. Stiff, wear-like-iron dungarees must be worn out – faded/distressed jean movement.
  7. Eye glasses cannot rest on the nose – contact lenses.
  8. Pencils cannot be sharpened – mechanical pencils.
  9. Laser printers must be slow – home printer industry.

Sure, these examples were reverse engineered. But take a minute to walk back in time and sit in those industries. What if back then you created those problems for yourself? What if you create them tomorrow?

The thinking in the post is strongly shaped by Jeffrey Paul Baumgartner’s Anti Conventional Thinking (ACT).

2 Responses to “Creative Problem Creation”

  • Very nice.
    I was transpiring within me on these lines for the last two days .
    I have started working on new solutions for mass attracted engineering products :but people accepting them as good even though they have some constraints .And also the manufacturers don’t care to solve the problems or remove the constraints
    My mission is to remove their constraints and make a novel products .
    One of my earlier bosses used to say that every problem created on earth is meant for an earning opportunity . to somebody else and everything is economics. And a death in a family is a business to the persons in the cremation ground .Sickness for a man is the business for the Doctor and Medical Store etc etc .
    To quote Mr G Chesterton in his famous essay ‘On Running after One’s Hat’ -that ‘an inconvenience is an opportunity rightly considered ‘.

  • Mike:

    I am happy my post helped you think deeply. And thank you for your examples. Mike

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Mike Shipulski Mike Shipulski
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