Rajat Joshi
Hr Consulting ,trainer -creative Thinking
[email protected]
Business Development Executive

Focus On Solutions?.

One of the most memorable case studies on Japanese management was the case of the empty soap box, which happened in one of Japan's biggest cosmetics companies. The company received a complaint that a consumer had bought a soap box that was empty.

Immediately the authorities isolated the problem to the assembly line, which transported all the packaged boxes of soap to the delivery department.For some reason, one soap box went through the assembly line empty.

Management asked its engineers to solve the problem. Post-haste, the engineers worked hard to devise an X-ray machine with high-resolution monitors manned by two people to watch all the soap boxes that passed through the line to make sure they were not empty.

No doubt, they worked hard and they worked fast but they spent whoopee amount to do so.

But when a rank-and-file employee in a small company was posed with the same problem, did not get into complications of X-rays, etc but instead came out with another solution.

He bought a strong industrial electric fan and pointed it at the assembly line. He switched the fan on, and as each soap box passed the fan, it simply blew the empty boxes out of the line.

Moral of the story:

KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) i.e.always look for simple solutions. Devise the simplest possible solution that solves the problem.

So, learn to focus on solutions not on problems

"If you look at what you do not have in life, you don't have anything"

"If you look at what you have in life, you have everything"



From India, Madras
Hi Anu,

Thanks for sharing this lovely example on Japense Soap Box - its a classic example of lateral thinking..infact i use this problem with students & Managers extensively..till date i never got the right answer!!..

Most problems in corporate world are somewhat similar to this but we like in above case esp the Top Management gets into act of finding solutions..which in most cases -solutions are little off track..infact in our company...after the above example..we share the problems related with all workers & supervisors instead of relying on Departmental Heads only..the results are amazing...most of the common problems are solved..the premise is that problem solving is not only pre-rogratve of Top Management - which usually happens most of the cases...and there is a strong sense of employee involvement as well!!

This reminds me of a powerful speech by Dr R A Mashelkar on Creativity & Managing Innovation..whose excerpts are re-produced below..

Management of Innovation

India has a number of outstanding schools of management. Whereas they do an excellent job of providing graduates in management of business, finance, marketing, etc., there is no thrust on technology management – more importantly on knowledge management, and most importantly, on innovation/creativity management. Innovation/creativity management has to be brought to the centre stage in our management schools. What is so special about innovation management? Let me explain.

Innovation is the first reduction of an idea to a process that rarely can be planned and controlled with the kind of analytical certainty that the conventional manager associates with other operations. The process of innovation tends to advances in a bubbling way. It is intense and tumultuous. It is only the inspired and motivated people that can be innovative. The challenge before an innovator is converting inspiration into solutions and ideas into products.

True innovators are those who refuse to preserve status quo. They are those, who put in all their energy to make things happen. Their incentives are personal and emotional. They are not institutional and financial. They enjoy the fun of creation, the admiration received from them by their peers, and the excitement and glory of taking part in a total process of creation. Innovators are some times extremely intense. A great innovator like Carother, who developed world’s first synthetic fiber nylon committed suicide. Diesel, who invented diesel engine, also committed suicide. Managing innovation means managing such creative and intense people.



From India, Pune
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