Social Media Problem

December 27, 2009

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

December 27, 2009

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.

Waste Problem

December 27, 2009

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?

Waiting Problem

December 27, 2009

Perceived Problem: The amenities were great, but the elevators in my client’s new office building were extremely slow. This became a major problem. Every day, frustrated and often angry crowds stood in the lobby, complaining as they waited for an elevator cab to arrive. The building’s developer and management team hired consultants to assess the problem and even solicited tenants for ideas. Here were some of the suggestions:

Add a couple more banks of elevators.
Make the doors open and close faster.
Stagger business starting and ending times.
Have visitors come during off-hours.

Everyone was so focused on the problem, no one was able to see it as a solution… well, almost no one.

Pink Bat Solution: One morning I arrived to find a crowd (larger than usual), standing in the lobby. But instead of an angry mob, everyone was happily gazing up at the new video monitors that had been installed over the weekend. They were getting stock market information, checking the weather, and reading employee-related news. Amazingly, some people didn’t
even board an elevator when it became available.

With Pink Bat thinking, the perceived problem became a solution. People were no longer waiting for elevators. Disney discovered this solution long ago. Waiting can be a big problem… or a great way to entertain and inform guests.

Sticky Problem

December 27, 2009

Perceived Problem: In 1942 when researchers were searching for a way to make clear plastic gun sights, they formulated a substance called cyanoacrylates. It didn’t work. In fact, it was a problem… it stuck to
everything… so they rejected it.

In 1951, the formula was rediscovered by a new team of researchers, but this time, rather than reject it, one of the scientists was intrigued with its bonding properties. By viewing it through pink-colored lenses, he saw it for what it really was… and by using his imagination… he began to see it for what it could be.

Pink Bat Solution: Cyanoacrylates made an amazing super glue… it bonded almost anything you could imagine! Paradoxically, when it was discovered that the formula also bonded human skin, its strength became a perceived weakness. To many, the potential dangers of this problem outweighed the benefits.

That is, until the U.S. military heard about it. Doctors in Vietnam were looking for a quicker way to suture wounded soldiers. This “problem” became
a solution that saved many people’s lives. This Pink Bat is still being used today in medical applications around the world.

Plowing Problem

December 27, 2009

Perceived Problem: For U.S. farmers in the eastern states, a cast-iron plow worked fine. But for farmers who tried using it to cultivate crops in the rich Midwest soil, it was a disaster. In fact, attempting to cut through tough prairie ground with a cast-iron plow was problematic to say the least. Trying to use one in the sticky rich soil without it getting clogged was nearly impossible.

Many knowledgeable people focused on this problem. The more they focused on it, the bigger it seemed to become. In time, most of them concluded the was too big of a problem and gave up.

Pink Bat Solution: After moving to the Midwest, a young blacksmith (an outsider) learned of this situation and began focusing on a solution. One day, as he walked to work, a glint of sunlight reflected off an old discarded saw blade. To the sawmill, this old blade represented a worthless, worn out piece of steel… a problem. To young John Deere, it was a beautifully honed piece of smooth steel… a solution.

After pulling it from the junk pile, he took it to his shop and created a plow that worked great in the “problematic” Midwest soil. Today, the John Deere Company supplies equipment to farmers throughout the world… and it all started with a discarded saw blade—a Pink Bat.

Pollution Problem

November 24, 2009

Perceived Problem: As I write this sentence, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates the Earth’s population to be 6.792 billion. It’s difficult to imagine the amount of material—plastic, glass, aluminum, cardboard, paper, wood—this many people will use in a lifetime.

Add to that the existing waste already generated by the billions of people that preceded all of us and you start to get an idea of the magnitude of this problem. Many ideas were explored to manage this problem, but none solved it. That’s because the focus was on the problem… not the solution. As a result, toxic landfills expanded. At some point it became clear… the landfill solution was a growing problem that was adversely affecting our planet in countless ways.

Pink Bat Solution: Recycle. By processing and repurposing used materials to create new products, recycling cuts down on toxic landfills and reduces the consumption of raw materials. In addition, it reduces energy usage, decreases air and water pollution, and lowers greenhouse gases as compared to virgin production. Recycling also creates new jobs and opportunities for many people. Since this solution is more sustainable, it holds great promise for future generations as well.

Today, recycling plays an important role in waste management… to think it was once an unseen Pink Bat.