Advertising
Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

    Advertising

    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?

      Advertising

      “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.)

      Advertising

      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

        24 Best Habit Tracking Apps (2019 Updated) 40 Top Productivity Apps for iPhone (2019 Updated) How to Focus on Work Better and Boost Productivity Why Do I Have Bad Luck? 2 Simple Things to Change Your Destiny How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up

        Trending in Smartcut

        1 The Key to Finding Job Satisfaction and Having a Successful Career 2 How to Be a Successful Businessman (The Complete Guide) 3 Better Alternatives to New Year’s Resolutions to Reduce Your Stress 4 How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money 5 20 Best Places to Work for a Great Career in 2019

        Read Next

        Advertising
        Advertising
        Advertising

        Last Updated on January 2, 2019

        Better Alternatives to New Year’s Resolutions to Reduce Your Stress

        Better Alternatives to New Year’s Resolutions to Reduce Your Stress

        The end of the year is the time when everyone tries to give you advice on how to live healthier, look better, and earn more money.

        It’s understandable if you find yourself lost among all the tips and opinions. Sometimes you no longer know what you truly want to achieve next year – and what’s just imposed by society.

        To help you out, we’ve made this article about the things you should remove from your new year’s resolution list – instead of adding to it – to make your daily life more harmonious and peaceful.

        So just make sure you cross these off your New Year’s to-do list – your body, mind and soul will be thankful.

        1. Stop Buying Meaningless Gifts

        We all know the sense of obligation – when we have to buy a gift for an event or celebration that’s already tomorrow, but we still have no idea of what to give.

        Take these tips close to heart for all upcoming holidays, including birthdays, weddings, graduations, etc.:

        Stop focusing on the material objects

        Instead of focusing on what material object to give, think about the emotion you want to evoke[1] in the gift recipient, and then pick a symbolic gift that can support or represent that emotion. For example, you can gift coziness by presenting a “comfort set” with warm socks, tea, candles, etc. Or give motivation by presenting a beautiful planner or notebook.

        Plan gifts in advance

        We know this is easier said than done. But if you try to plan which gifts you’ll need in the upcoming months (try making a list three or four times a year), ideas will more likely come to mind and you’ll avoid that last-minute shopping. Not to mention, you’ll be able to keep an eye on sales to get the best prices.

        Suggest a better way

        If you’re tired of exchanging gifts for birthdays and holidays, initiate a different approach. For example, draw names among family members and agree that each one only buys a present to that one person they got. Alternatively, you can agree not to share gifts among adults, and only give presents to kids of the family. Or, ask friends to donate to charity instead of buying a gift for you.

        Go for common experiences instead of exchanging gifts

        You can agree (with your partner or the extended family) to go on a common trip, dinner or another activity, instead of spending money on gifts.

        Sometimes you’ll have to be the one who initiates breaking the rules that have been accepted in the family for years. But if you suspect that you’re not the only one in the group who’s tired of gift-hunting, you’ll surely find support for your suggestions.

        Advertising

        2. Don’t Exaggerate with Diets and Fitness Resolutions

        It’s no secret that TV shows, article headlines, and ads (not to mention our healthy diet-obsessed friends) make us feel like we need to look better, slimmer and younger than we actually are. But going on yet another diet or starting a fitness plan with the wrong motivation rarely leads to great results.

        If you are like many people, you have probably signed up for an annual gym membership at least once in your life – only to drop it one month later.

        How do you balance a good resolution for a healthier life without pushing yourself into commitments that won’t last?

        Here’s what you can do:

        Set a healthier pattern

        For example, do meat-free Mondays or reduce meat consumption to three days per week (less saturated fat for you and better for the environment). Or choose to eat only healthy food at least three days a week or only on weekdays (e.g. make sure your meals contain vegetables, fruits, whole grains, dairy products, and protein). This way you’ll already have a healthier diet while still being able to treat yourself with a snack on weekends or parties.

        Get a fitness watch

        Fitness watches like Fitbit or MiBand are tiny accessories that will count your steps, calories burnt and will serve as an excellent motivator to move – or to take the stairs instead of the elevator.

        Find a physical activity that you enjoy

        Even if you are not that fond of doing sports, you can definitely find an activity that you’d do with pleasure. Think about what you’d like – from taking up Nordic walking to pilates or even exercising at home.

        Try intermittent fasting

        This is an alternating cycles of fasting and eating. For example, stop eating at 8 pm and restart not sooner than 12 hours later. This approach has been proven to have numerous health benefits, in addition to weight loss.

        Skip cabs or driving to work and opt for cycling or walking instead

        You’ll burn calories, breathe some fresh air, and save money – win-win!

        3. Put a Cap on Your Daily To-Do List

        In today’s busy world, planning your day in a stress-free way is actually an art in itself. It’s natural to want to be a loving parent, a diligent employee, an active member of the local community and probably several other individual roles.

        But playing all these roles requires energy and meticulous planning. How not to lose yourself amidst all the appointments and responsibilities? And – most importantly – how to still find time for relaxing and recharging yourself?

        Advertising

        These daily planning tips will help you have more stress-free days:

        Leave bigger intervals between meetings

        If you schedule too many appointments or chores in a day, you’ll probably end up late at some point, and as a result – more stressed. There are many different reasons why people are late, but poor planning is a major factor too.

        Plan time to relax

        As weird as it may sound, you should try and schedule your resting time. For example, if you only have one free evening this week, and a friend tries to squeeze in a meeting, feel free to say no. Don’t feel obliged to specify the reason for your refusal, just say that you are busy.

        Try to be a little pessimistic

        We’re often packed with plans or running late for errands because we tend to be overly optimistic – about the traffic, the time it takes to do things, etc. Instead, try an opposite tactic — assume you’ll hit traffic or the meeting will take longer.

        Try waking up earlier

        Sometimes even waking up 30 minutes earlier can give you the much-needed head start for several errands of the day. But remember to get enough sleep every night, even if it means going to bed earlier.

        Plan your day the day before

        Chances are your day will be much better organized if you pack a lunch and lay out an outfit before going to bed.

        Designate a time for checking emails and social messages

        If you start checking your messages between appointments, you risk getting lost in a sea of messages that need replies. Designate a time for this activity or do it in case you arrived early to a meeting.

        4. Let Go of Unhealthy and Time-Consuming Habits

        If there’s one thing we should get rid of in the new year, it’s the habits that steal our time, provide instant gratification but don’t offer any value in the long term. Or even worse, leave a negative impact on our health.

        Here are some common (and pointless) habits along with tips on how to get rid of them:

        Binge-watching TV series

        Even if most online television platforms offer you lists of “Best TV Shows to Binge Watch”, being addicted to series is a major time-waster.

        You can manage this addiction in several ways, for example, watch one episode per day (or a few per week) as a reward, only after you’ve finished an assignment or done a house chore. Or try replacing this habit with exercise or reading a book – this will be hard at first but should stick after a few weeks. You can also try to track how much time you spend on TV or movies – seeing how much of your life you are wasting might urge you to do something about it.

        Advertising

        Running on coffee

        Being a coffee addict is kind of a stylish addiction nowadays, but it’s not that innocent as it may initially seem. Besides addiction being a problem in itself, drinking too much coffee (more than 500-600 mg of caffeine a day) may lead to nervousness, insomnia, an upset stomach, a fast heartbeat, and even muscle tremors.[2]

        As a solution, try switching to tea or edible coffee – a more sustainable, healthy, and productivity-enhancing alternative. For example, Coffee Pixels are solid coffee bars that generate a more even energy kick throughout the day without the coffee-induced abstinence and dehydration.

        Procrastination

        Fighting procrastination requires some serious willpower. If it is a problem in your daily life or work, try ”eating the frog” in the morning – get over your biggest or hardest tasks first, then tackle everything else.

        Alternatively, use time tracking software to monitor exactly how much time you waste on unproductive actions, websites or apps. Once you know exactly how much time you’re spending unproductively, try to limit your time on social media, for example to just 20 minutes per day.

        If nothing else works, try bribing yourself — promise yourself to do something fun or pleasant when you finish your assignment.

        Whichever habit you want to give up, consider using some habits building tools to make a contract with yourself and reward yourself for milestones achieved.

        5. Stop over-consuming

        We live in the age of consumerism – huge manufacturers with their promise of a comfortable life on the one hand, and growing environmental threats – that are the direct result of our modern lifestyle – on the other hand. There’s only one solution – try to consume less whenever and wherever you can.

        Before making additional purchases, ask yourself these questions:

        • Do I really need it? Did I need it yesterday?
        • Can’t I buy it used or borrow it from friends?
        • Can I rent it?
        • Can I make it myself?
        • Am I buying the most sustainable version of this product?

        For example, check if the brand you chose is conscious about the environment, for example, are the products they manufacture energy efficient? Do they try to use less packaging?

        Also, if you often find yourself buying too many groceries, promise to buy only the amount that fits in one shopping bag (that you bring along). If you often forget to take your shopping bag with you, get yourself a 2-in-1 wallet with a built-in shopping bag for more eco-friendly shopping.

        6. Learn to Unplug from Your Phone

        Today’s world is crammed with information, and many people struggle to keep focus on what’s truly important. There’s just too much going on in the world – too much to read, to watch, to know, too many conversations to participate in.

        Advertising

        But how to refuse the temptation to check the phone and start using social media in a controlled, not a compulsive way?

        Some tips for managing your phone-dependency:

        Spend only a limited amount of battery per day

        For example, start your day with 50% battery life, and manage your phone usage so that you’ll make it till the evening.

        Block distracting apps and notifications on your phone and computer

        Choose one-hour, two-hour or longer blocking sessions and enjoy the positive impact this will have on your mood and productivity.[3]

        Set your phone on flight mode

        When you start doing an important task that requires full focus, set your phone on flight mode so that nobody can disturb you.

        Leave your phone at home or in the office when you go for lunch

        You’ll see that the feeling of being unreachable for a moment is actually very liberating.

        The Bottom Line

        As a new year begins, we’re all excitedly looking forward to what adventures await ahead of us.

        But this year, promise yourself this:

        Instead of having a never-ending list of tasks and commitments, focus on the truly meaningful ones. And cross-out all the rest without feeling guilty.

        Less is more. Make this year count. We’re all rooting for you.

        Featured photo credit: Brooke Lark via unsplash.com

        Reference

        Read Next