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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

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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 June 1, 2021

        7 Signs That You’re Way Too Busy (And Need to Change That)

        7 Signs That You’re Way Too Busy (And Need to Change That)

        “Busy” used to be a fair description of the typical schedule. More and more, though, “busy” simply doesn’t cut it.

        “Busy” has been replaced with “too busy”, “far too busy”, or “absolutely buried.” It’s true that being productive often means being busy…but it’s only true up to a point.

        As you likely know from personal experience, you can become so busy that you reach a tipping point…a point where your life tips over and falls apart because you can no longer withstand the weight of your commitments.

        Once you’ve reached that point, it becomes fairly obvious that you’ve over-committed yourself.

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        The trick, though, is to recognize the signs of “too busy” before you reach that tipping point. A little self-assessment and some proactive schedule-thinning can prevent you from having that meltdown.

        To help you in that self-assessment, here are 7 signs that you’re way too busy:

        1. You Can’t Remember the Last Time You Took a Day Off

        Occasional periods of rest are not unproductive, they are essential to productivity. Extended periods of non-stop activity result in fatigue, and fatigue results in lower-quality output. As Sydney J. Harris once said,

        “The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.”

        2. Those Closest to You Have Stopped Asking for Your Time

        Why? They simply know that you have no time to give them. Your loved ones will be persistent for a long time, but once you reach the point where they’ve stopped asking, you’ve reached a dangerous level of busy.

        3. Activities like Eating Are Always Done in Tandem with Other Tasks

        If you constantly find yourself using meal times, car rides, etc. as times to catch up on emails, phone calls, or calendar readjustments, it’s time to lighten the load.

        It’s one thing to use your time efficiently. It’s a whole different ballgame, though, when you have so little time that you can’t even focus on feeding yourself.

        4. You’re Consistently More Tired When You Get up in the Morning Than You Are When You Go to Bed

        One of the surest signs of an overloaded schedule is morning fatigue. This is a good indication that you’ve not rested well during the night, which is a good sign that you’ve got way too much on your mind.

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        If you’ve got so much to do that you can’t even shut your mind down when you’re laying in bed, you’re too busy.

        5. The Most Exercise You Get Is Sprinting from One Commitment to the Next

        It’s proven that exercise promotes healthy lives. If you don’t care about that, that’s one thing. If you’d like to exercise, though, but you just don’t have time for it, you’re too busy.

        If the closest thing you get to exercise is running from your office to your car because you’re late for your ninth appointment of the day, it’s time to slow down.

        Try these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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        6. You Dread Getting up in the Morning

        If your days are so crammed full that you literally dread even starting them, you’re too busy. A new day should hold at least a small level of refreshment and excitement. Scale back until you find that place again.

        7. “Survival Mode” Is Your Only Mode

        If you can’t remember what it feels like to be ahead of schedule, or at least “caught up”, you’re too busy.

        So, How To Get out of Busyness?

        Take a look at this video:

        And these articles to help you get unstuck:

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        Featured photo credit: Khara Woods via unsplash.com

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