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Last Updated on January 30, 2018

The Bigger the Idea, the Bigger the Value?

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

        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 September 20, 2018

        8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

        8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

        You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

        Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

        When you train your brain, you will:

        • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
        • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
        • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

        So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

        1. Work your memory

        Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

        When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

        If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

        The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

        Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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        Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

        What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

        For example, say you just met someone new:

        “Hi, my name is George”

        Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

        Got it? Good.

        2. Do something different repeatedly

        By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

        Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

        It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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        And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

        But how does this apply to your life right now?

        Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

        Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

        Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

        So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

        You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

        That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

        3. Learn something new

        It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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        For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

        Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

        You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

        4. Follow a brain training program

        The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

        5. Work your body

        You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

        Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

        Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

        Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

        6. Spend time with your loved ones

        If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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        If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

        I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

        7. Avoid crossword puzzles

        Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

        Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

        Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

        8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

        Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

        When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

        So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

        The bottom line

        Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

        Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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