Put Grandma in the Playpen

What would be a realistic but unusual answer to this problem?

Grandma is knitting but her three year old granddaughter keeps playing with the wool. Father suggests putting the child in the playpen. Mother comes up with a better idea – what is it?

Some people suggest taking the child out of the room or telling Grandma to stop knitting. Better than that is to give the child a spare ball of wool. All these solutions are acceptable – but a bit boring, a bit obvious. The point of the exercise is not simply to solve the problem, but to solve it in a realistic but unusual way. A better answer is then to put Grandma in the playpen. Doing that would mean Grandma could carry of knitting without interruption and the child can be in the room with everyone but doesn’t feel imprisoned. It works, it’s simple, but something odd is going on.

Grandmas don’t belong in playpens you cry! That’s a convention yes, but not the law. There’s nothing to say we can’t do it. The point of this problem and the solution is that there are many answers to the problems in your life and in your business. Most are obvious – they are the ones your competition have already thought of. You cannot afford to be obvious.

So when you have a problem and you need a solution don’t be concerned with convention. Don’t be concerned with what’s expected. Don’t be concerned with what people will think. Don’t even be concerned with what’s possible. If you put constraints like these on your ideas or if you judge your ideas during th e brainstorming phase you might was well give up and join the legion of mediocrity because these things will prevent you from having the best ideas at best, but will more than likely totally kill the process at worst.

Working out what is actually possible and allowed is done later, in the planning phase, not in the creative ideas phase. Learn to play, to make new associations, swap things around, wonder, be silly, experiment. These are the attributes that will enable you to solve the problem with a unique solution and to think of that elusive winning idea.

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