Sometimes the solution to a problem is not among the items on the table.
It may be something entirely different that draws on already readily available resources but is only accessed when focusing on the big picture objective.
Here’s a story about that.
We were on a family road trip to visit mom (aka grandma) in St. Louis. Some of you may have heard of our epic road trips. There’s the “10 States Between Illinois and Missouri” one. Or, the one where we found ourselves explaining to Canadian Border Patrol that we were just passing through on the way to St. Louis.
On this particular trip, we rented a car, and a few miles in realized the car hadn’t been cleaned between rentals (yucky, but pre-COVID). There was a hair tie on the dashboard, food wrappers in the back seat, and such. Ewww! We thought as we called customer service and arranged to exchange this car for a new one in the next larger city.
We arrived at the local branch ready for something shiny and new, only to be told by a representative and then a manager, that they knew nothing about what corporate agreed to and didn’t have any cars.
“But we were promised,” we said. “Absolutely not,” the manager said. As this unproductive cycle of “but…!” “No!” began to escalate, going nowhere, my then 10-year-old son piped up.
“Can’t you just wash the car?” he asked.
“That’s easy,” said the manager.
“That would be great,” we said.
In fact, not only did we get a clean car, they refilled the gas tank, too. As we stood staunch in our positions of A vs B, there was a quick solution that was entirely different from what either of us had thought of and yet 100% matched our objectives and capabilities.
This is good to remember, almost a PSA right now, as people seem to get more entrenched in binary, two-dimensional thinking.
What’s the ultimate objective? What are the common values, albeit with different ideas about a solution? What are the overlapping desires and opportunities?
There’s more than one way to skin a cat, or my preferred, Peta-approved animal-friendly version, there’s more than one way to peel a potato.
What’s an example where you’ve seen a solution that wasn’t anticipated at the outset?