Enlarge your horizons and you ‘ll find the solution

Do you remember him…Michael Crooks!

Of course you do: Michael is a faithfull writer of the PPIBlog.

He’s a USA based marketer and creative problem solver.
One more time, he comes and delect us with his quill.

The subject: To find a solution or an idea…just expand your horizons…

Golf-Ball Hunting Yields Powerful Creative Insight

Whenever we go on vacation, we scope out the local golf courses to see how many golf balls we can find. It’s neat because at 10 and 12, my children can look beyond the green and quickly decide the likelihood that golf balls lie there. If it’s flat and relatively tree or bush free … no balls. However, if beyond the green lies a steep drop-off or thick underbrush with lots of prickers — golf ball gold mine.

Recently while on vacation in Bushkill, PA, my son helped me discover a very powerful creative problem-solving insight.

We were walking up a fairway about 3 feet into the wooded rough when we stopped to watch a golfer tee off. He gave it a good smack then drove down in his cart looking for his ball. He drove around in circles for a couple of minutes with no luck. Finally, he dropped another ball, whacked it and took off, shooting us a dirty look over his shoulder. I shrugged as I said to my son, “He thinks we stole his ball.” We did not. In fact, as we made our way back down the fairway we found the guy’s ball. It was less than 3 feet from the cart’s tire tracks.

“Dad,” my son asked.

“Yeah”, I replied.

“How come we can find 50 golf balls without hardly trying and that guy couldn’t find one ball that he just hit?”

“Well”, I replied with a chuckle, “That guy is looking for A golf ball where he thinks it should be. We’re simply looking for golf balls … wherever they might be.”

And that’s when it hit me: “If you limit your search for an idea or solution to where you think it should be, you narrow your entire spectrum of possibility .. and likely your success.”

In the case of golfers, their perception of exactly where the ball lies is often skewed by such things as alcohol, distance, pitch, terrain similarities or being blinded by the sun.

In marketing and business, the perception of exactly where the idea or solution lies may be skewed by budget, time, misinformation, misunderstood information, alcohol or blind ambition.

Have a problem in shipping? Look for a solution from the people who work in shipping … not the managers who are probably so deep in paperwork they don’t have a clue about what’s really going on down there anyway.

Let’s pretend! Management of a zoo is all upset over the amount of trash generated each year by patrons throwing away the map of the zoo at day’s end. The first solution would be to get all “tight-fisted” with the number of maps that are handed out by instituting a “one per family” policy and charging for additionals. No one wants to pay for a piece of paper.

However, if you expanded your idea search, you might find another answer such as, print the map on something people won’t throw away — like a bandanna. Give one to each group, charge for additionals. People will pay a buck for a souvenir bandana that tells them where the important stuff such as the restrooms are. If they turn it in at the end of the day they get their $1 back. The maps can be washed if need be, and reused. Or, underwrite the cost of the bandanna by selling space to a local restaurant or other area attraction that allows the bandanna to be used as a coupon at their establishment. This approach opens the creative door to development of cross-promotion of other owned properties or even reciprocal partnerships.

The point is, you’re looking for ideas outside of, “If we give out less maps … less maps will get thrown away.” Now you’re looking for golf balls … not A golf ball.

When you look for “ideas” or “solutions” as opposed to “a specific idea” or “a specific solution”, you expand your horizons. And when you look for ideas and solutions outside of where you think the answer or solution lies, you expand your horizons even more.

The trick with golf ball hunting is to look where others don’t or won’t. The same is true for idea hunting. You must allow your mind to go where others fear to tread.

How a golf ball ends up on the backside of a tree away from the direction the ball was shot is beyond me. It doesn’t make sense. But you know what? When you find what you’re looking for … where you find it doesn’t have to make sense.