3 Stories on Simplicity
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).
- 2. LIONS, MICE & ANTELOPES.
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.)
- 3. SOUTHWEST AIRLINES.
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!