Back in my college days, there was a subject known as Engineering Graphics being taught to all of us. The core idea behind this subject was imaginative thinking and visualization. If simply stated, we were given different 3D models and we had to draw resultant views when they were rotated at different angles.

Just a couple of days back, while working on an office project I encountered a roadblock. It was a creative problem and hence it required a novel solution. I spent several days trying to figure it out but all in vain. Then one afternoon, while dicing an onion, a very non intuitive solution occurred to me. I don’t know how I arrived at that approach because it still feels quite unusual as far as my thinking pattern is concerned. But nevertheless, it helped me solve the problem.

We might never realize this but a lot of times, even the most daunting problems can be tackled if we change out perspective of problem solving. Once exposed to a fresh viewpoint, it feels as if we have been trying to hammer a nail using our head all this while. I have two such stories, which shows how complex problems can be solved quite easily if we just look at them from another direction.

Just switch it on

There was this soap manufacturing factory located in a small town. Most of the processes involved in making of the soap were automated in this factory and hence, it was able to churn out good profits from the sales. However, recently there had been some issues with the manufacturing line, as more and more customers complained about receiving empty soap packets. Upon diagnosis, the engineers found out that the machine, randomly omitted filling soap inside packets and used to pack them without it.

The management pressurized the engineering team to rectify the fault as the firm was losing its market share day by day. But unfortunately, the problem was far from evident and engineers were really stressed about it. They checked and rechecked all the assembly pipelines but nothing seemed to work. However after spending several sleepless nights over it, one of them came up with an ingenious solution.
She suggested to install a big fan beside the conveyor belt to blow away all the empty soap packets.

Just make it bigger

Another interesting story is about a toothpaste company, which was trying to increase its revenue. Even after spending a hefty amount on marketing campaigns they were not able to hit the right figures. The management was certain that they had reached a saturation point and somehow even though they had a loyal consumer base it was very difficult to convert consumers who preferred other brands.

But one of them had a weird idea. She suggested to increase the diameter of toothpaste tube so that with the same amount of pressure, more toothpaste would ooze out.

Entertaining difference

A lot of times, we vehemently avoid differences with people (Sometimes we avoid such people all together). But differences are what we need to look beyond our own biases and shortcomings. The trick here is to entertain (maybe not accept) foreign ideas successfully. I must tell you, this is no easy task but with proper practice we can certainly dampen our defense mechanism to at least listen to what the other perspective is. We can later on think about its validity but being able to hold it for analysis itself will equip us to tackle the problem in a different light.

A classical example of harmonious existence of diverse views is the dual nature of light. It is said to be composed of particles to explain certain set of phenomena while it is said to be of wave nature to explain other class of phenomena.

But please be very cautious and don’t always search for an easier way to get things done. Sometimes, there is simply no shortcut. There are different views nevertheless but not some easy hack. For instance writing a blog weekly is a task and it can be painfully boring sometimes but there is no other way around it. (🤔)

In the end, you gotta do what you gotta do. So that next time you are stuck in some tedious task, try to take a break before you decide to over exert yourself. Maybe chop some onions in the meantime.