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The Bigger the Idea, the Bigger the Value?

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The Bigger the Idea, the Bigger the Value?

In 1935, Boeing and Martin & Douglas — two aviation companies — brought planes to an airfield in Dayton, Ohio to compete for a contract from the U.S. Army. Boeing was showcasing a plane called the Model 299, which had a 103-foot wingspan, four engines (the norm at the time was two), five times the number of specified bombs, and could fly much farther than any other plane.

It was a very complex plane, but a tremendous one.

And what happened in Dayton? It crashed right into the ground, killing two of the men on board.[1]

The instant theory on what happened was complexity. Some newspapers called it “too much plane for one man to fly.” Martin & Douglas won the contract, and Boeing almost went bankrupt.

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Some in the Army, though, still thought the Model 299 could work. They got together and tried to fix the complexity issues. At first, they thought the main issue was experience of the pilots — but in the Dayton test, the pilot had been very experienced. That wasn’t it.

Over time, they came up with a very simple idea: a pre-flight checklist.[2]

    The pre-flight checklist was a success, the plane was renamed the B-17, and it had a huge impact on WW2. At the same time, the pilot’s checklist gave birth to the hospital checklist, which has improved safety in surgery by 30% and more.

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    A simple idea, but with a huge impact.

    Very often, we seek great thoughts. We believe that the bigger the idea the bigger the value. But the pre-flight checklist is one of the many pieces of evidence to prove that this is not true.

    Start Small and Leverage

      If you want to make an impact, aim small and think about the leverage of an idea. Begin with one small idea, or an old idea. How can the old idea be reused, adjusted, or tweaked to “leverage” for higher values?

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      “Leveraging” is an investment strategy involving the use of borrowed capital to increase the potential return on an investment. It works with ideas too, however. An old idea in a new situation can be transformative. Or a simple idea like a pre-flight checklist can change the course of a World War.

      You don’t always need to wait for the inspirational “big idea” to come. What if that never comes, and you’re left with no ideas at all?

      How to Find that Small Idea?

      The easiest way is to start with a problem.

      Because there are so many different types of problems you could solve, look for one within your capability or expertise area. By narrowing down the scope, you don’t get distracted by problems that you don’t have control over. Within that area, look for a problem that happens all the time. (Something frequent.)

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      Now you need to stick to the problem you’ve found and look into it — start with the root cause, and then look for different layers of causes. Understand what the core of the issue is. This will help you think of more good approaches/solutions for it.

      Now review the causes you have identified and think of solutions. If there are available solutions, review whether they can really fix the causes you have identified. If the answer is no, it’s probably a hard problem to fix. But if the answer is yes, don’t worry so much about the root cause — try to review different layers of causes.

      If there are no available solutions, think of different solutions for different layers of causes. It feels counterintuitive to many, but oftentimes when you stop looking for the big idea, you open up creativity big-time.

      Small is Big

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        A simple act, with a simple, old tool, had incredible leverage. Don’t look for a great idea. Look for a good problem. Start by observing the troubles you come across in your everyday life. Go for the small idea and get the big wins from there. You probably won’t win a World War, no, but you could be very successful.

        Reference

        More by this author

        Leon Ho

        Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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        Last Updated on January 13, 2022

        How to Use Travel Time Effectively

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        How to Use Travel Time Effectively

        Most of us associate travel and time with what we’re going to do one we get to our destination. Planning and mapping out what to do once you arrive can certainly make for a more pleasurable vacation, but there are things you can do while you are on your way that can make it even better.

        Sure, you can plan for the things you’re going to do on your vacation while you are travelling en route – but what about making use of that time for other things that you don’t usually do when you’re at home? You don’t need to have your gadgets with you to do it, and you can really connect with yourself if you take the time to manage your life while heading towards your vacation destination.

        Here are some great tips to help you with your time management while you travel, some of which are more conventional than others. Nonetheless, you can find out what works best for you and apply them accordingly depending on when and how you are travelling.

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        1. Take Your Time Getting There

        As I write this, I’m on a flight to San Francisco. Flying is the fastest way to get from place to place, and for many people it’s really the only way to travel.

        But I’ve often taken the train or ferry on trips so that I have extra time without distraction to get more done. I’m not worrying about navigation or lack of space to do what I want to do. Instead I’m able to focus on getting stuff done during the time I’ve got without feeling rushed. For example, when I took the train from Vancouver to Portland, it was an eight hour trip and I managed to get a ton of writing done and closed a lot of open loops. It also was less expensive than flying, which was a bonus.

        Sometimes taking the long way to get somewhere on vacation can be the best thing for you to get somewhere with your life.

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        2. Go Gadget-Free

        This is going to be a tough one for a lot of you. But why do you need to bring your gadgets with you when you go on vacation? It isn’t be a bad idea to leave all but one of them behind, and only pull out that one when you absolutely need to do so. In some countries, you’d be wise to be discreet with them anyway since flaunting them in front of those that are less fortunate than you isn’t a good practice. While it may not seem like flaunting to you, in different cultures it can definitely come across that way.

        If you can’t go gadget-free, then at least go Internet-free. If you use a task management app that requires syncing across your multiple devices to be effective, remember that if you only have the one device with you then it can be the “master device” for the time being and will store your data locally anyway. Just sync up when you get home.

        3. Reflect and Prepare

        Finally, going on any sort of excursion gives you the perfect opportunity to reflect on where you’ve been. The fact you have removed yourself from where you usually are can give you a perspective that you simply can’t get when you’re at home. You may want to journal your thoughts during this time – and by taking more time to get to your destination you’ll have more time to dig deeper into it.

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        After a period of reflection – however long that happens to be – you can then begin to not only prepare for the rest of your travels, you can prepare for the rest of what happens afterward. The reflection period is important, though. You need to really know where you’ve been in order to properly look at where you want to be. Time away from things gives you that chance.

        Conclusion

        Traveling isn’t always about where you’re going and how quickly you can get there. In fact, it’s rarely about that at all.

        More often it’s where you’re at in your head that will dictate how much you benefit from traveling. So don’t just go somewhere fast. Instead, take your time on the way there and take the time to connect with not only where you are but who are while you’re there.

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        If you do that, you’ll have a better chance to be who you want to be when you leave.

        Featured photo credit: bruce mars via unsplash.com

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