For Impact


3 Stories on Simplicity

For Impact Ideas | | Tom Suddes

To help you with this week’s theme of SIMPLICITY, here are 3 simple stories:

    1. A PENCIL.

    When NASA first started sending up astronauts, they quickly discovered that ballpoint pens would not work in zero gravity.

    To combat the problem, NASA scientists spent ten years and $12 billion to develop a pen that writes in zero gravity, upside down, underwater, on almost any surface including glass and at temperatures ranging from below freezing to 300 centigrade.

    The Russians used a pencil.

    Moral of the Story:

      • Define the Problem.
      • Identify Simple Solution.
      • Act/Execute/Deliver (on a Solution).


    A lion can actually capture, kill and eat a field mouse.

    However, it turns out that the energy to do that is greater than the caloric content of the mouse. So, if a lion spent his whole day hunting and eating field mice… it would slowly starve itself to death!

    A lion cannot live on mice. Lions need antelopes. Antelopes are BIG. While they take more speed and strength to capture and kill, once killed, they provide a huge feast for a lion and its pride.

    A lion can live a long and happy life on a diet of antelope. It will die chasing mice’.

    If you’re spending all of your time and energy going after ‘field mice’, your short-term reward is a feeling of activity and maybe even accomplishment.

    However, in the long run, you’re going to die.

    Moral of the Story: Stop chasing ‘mice’. Focus on ‘antelopes’. (It really is this simple.)


    In the United States, Southwest Airlines is THE low-cost airline

    Herb Kelleher, Founder of Southwest Airlines, literally put ‘3 dots’ on a cocktail napkin… and then connected them forming a rough triangle. This represented Houston, San Antonio and Dallas within the state of Texas.

    Here’s the quick story.

    Kelleher: “I can teach you the secret to running this airline in 30 seconds. Here it is:

    Southwest is THE LOW-FARE AIRLINE. Not a low-fare airline. We are THE low-fare airline.

    Once you understand that fact you can make any decision about this company’s future as well as I can.”

    At one point, Tracy from marketing comes into the office and says her surveys indicate that passengers might enjoy a light entrée on the Houston to Las Vegas flight. All we offer is peanuts, and she thinks a nice chicken Caesar salad would be popular. What do you say???

    You simply say, “Tracy, will adding the chicken Caesar salad make us THE low-fare airline from Houston to Las Vegas??? Because if it doesn’t help us become the unchallenged low-fare airline, then we’re not serving any *!?* chicken Caesar salad!”

    Moral of the Story: Once you have simplified your MESSAGE (Blue Box)… and simplified your PRIORITIES (your 3 Circles)… it is really simple/easy to make decisions!