Health/Energy Problem

Perceived Problem: Americans are obese. Not all, but many. This includes children, too. Along with obesity comes serious medical conditions including heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. With diets low in fruits and vegetables, and high in processed foods, meat, salt, sugar and white flour, it is easy to trace the problem’s source. Add in the fact that many Americans lead a sedentary lifestyle and the problem becomes even more obvious.

Americans have another problem, too… the country’s energy grid is outdated. Many people advocate natural gas, while others believe nuclear is the best solution. Some claim wind and solar are superior solutions because they’re the most sustainable. As another alternative, consider this Pink Bat idea.

Pink Bat Solution: Turn obesity into energy. Rather than having kids sit at desks all day, let them learn on elliptical machines or stationery bicycles that are hooked up to a generator. Not only will this improve school spirit while saving the district money, but most importantly, it will create healthier and happier kids. By extension, students will learn about energy, the environment, finances, calories, food and health.

As added incentive, kids generating the most energy each month could be recognized for their contribution. Armed with knowledge and success, children would then educate their parents about diet and lifestyle. While these ideas may seem a bit far-fetched, they exemplify how Pink Bat thinking can be applied to unrelated “problems” to create new solutions.

Social Media Problem

Perceived Problem: The Internet! Yes, that’s right. Information is power, and for some businesses, a lack of control over this information is seen as a major problem. Today, employees can readily communicate and share ideas with one another and the outside world—and vice versa. Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, along with countless blogs, only add to this growing concern.

Keeping employees, customers… and the world… from openly discussing your products, procedures, or services, seems like an insurmountable problem. Still, many corporations try to block employees’ access to the Internet and discourage them from participating in social networks. By using Pink Bat thinking, many other solutions begin to appear.

Pink Bat Solution: If we focus on a solution instead of a problem, we realize that the Internet can truly empower employees. Being connected puts you in a better place to provide solutions. Social networking can enable us to deliver great customer service, and by extension, build employee, customer, and brand loyalty. Transparency creates accountability and builds trust. Solution-based companies are better able to capitalize on employee insights and listen to customers.

Blogs and social media provide an opportunity to identify new ideas for creating products, and improving existing products and services. As social media evolves and the Internet expands, Pink Bat thinkers will continue to prosper.

Smelly Problem

Perceived Problem: Simply put, Greeley, Colorado, smells. The odor of manure produced by the hundreds of thousands of cattle raised on the outskirts of town permeates the air.

Can you imagine living with this problem? My first solution would be to move. But that doesn’t solve the problem for others… nor would it address an even bigger problem… greenhouse gas emission. You could stop raising cows. Considering I don’t eat meat, that solution sounds perfect to me, and I’m certain the cows would concur. This would solve many other problems as well. But, no doubt, the farmers would find my solution problematic.

Pink Bat Solution: To entrepreneurs, this stench smells like an opportunity… better yet… a solution. While most people focus on a manure problem, others see a manure solution… a continual supply of renewable energy… natural gas.

One local cattle-feed operator is capitalizing on this perceived problem by fueling a gasifier (a large oven) with cow dung. As the dung bakes, the gases fuel the fire… and the heat powers the feedlot boilers.

This solution not only reduces energy costs, but by converting methane into carbon dioxide, it also addresses environmental concerns. Pink Bats exist everywhere… you just need to see (or smell) them.

Dusty Problem

Perceived Problem: In San Marcos, Texas, drivers have a problem keeping their car windows clean due to the unique dirt roads that locals call “caliche.” The blend of limestone dust, gravel and clay creates a fine white dust that billows up and coats the rear windows of residents’ automobiles.

For those focused solely on the problem, the solutions seem obvious… build more car washes, resurface the roads, or tell residents to avoid driving down them. But when you see things for what they are, and not what they’re “supposed” to be, and then use your imagination (apply Pink Bat thinking)… “problems” look very different. That’s exactly how Scott Wade
approaches the situation.

Pink Bat Solution: As an artist, Scott views the dust not so much as a problem, but as a unique canvas solution for his artwork. Now instead of complaining about the dust, the town residents are clamoring for the opportunity to have Scott create some original art on their rear window.

On a somewhat related note, a friend of mine who owns a regional bank, has built several new branches. He’s concerned because customers aren’t using the drive-up windows as planned. I suggested he install a car wash so customers can get their car cleaned while making a transaction. My friend hasn’t taken my advice… but it did get him thinking differently.

Waste Problem

Perceived Problem: Each day, restaurants prepare french fries, onion rings, fish, shrimp, and chicken… the list of deep-fried food possibilities is long. Breaded, battered or plain, the amount of used vegetable oil is staggering. Disposing of this messy waste is an expensive problem for restaurant owners.

In addition, our dependence on foreign oil continues to rise along with the prices at the pump. This is a perfect storm for a Pink Bat solution.

Remember, when more than one problem is present, a Pink Bat is usually waiting to be seen.

Pink Bat Solution: When we change the label from used grease or vegetable oil to biofuel, the problem quickly becomes a solution. By focusing on the solution, it becomes clear that discarded vegetable oil is a valuable commodity. It can power cars, trucks, planes… and perhaps someday… space travel. Today, companies compete to collect used vegetable oil.

This solution not only solves the restaurant owner’s problem, but it lessens American dependence on foreign oil and reduces greenhouse emissions.

Think of the millions of gallons of used vegetable oil that were discarded over the years because it was seen as a problem. How many Pink Bat solutions like this are waiting to be seen right now?

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