If I were to ask you what is the most common cause of innovation, you’d probably suggest that it stems from problem solving - someone has a well-defined problem and then thinks of a solution. Yet the SIT, or Systematic Inventive Thinking method, teaches the opposite – that in order to innovate, we should start with an abstract solution and then work backward to discover what problem it solves. The principle, Function Follows Form, notes that people are actually better at finding benefits to their current challenges as opposed to trying to just finding solutions to a problem at hand. Once someone discovers the benefits of a challenge, he is in a better place psychologically and open to new ideas.
A retail business is trying to operate during COVID-19, but faced the challenge of many workers not showing up to work. Starting with the challenge - a business with no manpower – the owners are forced to ask themselves – “what are the benefits of this challenge?” They conclude that although they cannot operate properly, they have been saving a lot of money on payroll and operating expenses. When contemplating the matter further, they ask themselves an additional question – “which business would benefit or thrive from not having staff come to work in the office daily” – and obviously conclude – an online business. Instead of just closing shop due to lack of manpower, the owners stumbled on an opportunity to run a business that doesn’t need (in person) manpower. By allowing themselves to appreciate the benefits of the challenge and to work backwards from the solution, they found a unique opportunity and a saving grace for their business.
People face challenges daily, whether they be work or personal related, yet it seems like some people are just more naturally resilient and able to deal better with setbacks than others. In truth however, people are not born more resilient than their peers, rather, they work hard to build the muscles necessary to get back up again after a disappointment. A challenge often brings with it a wave of struggles and instead of getting stuck in what was or what could have been, unique individuals are able to think about the future and the opportunities that lie ahead. Focusing on the benefits of a challenge instead of the obstacles, enables man to shift their focus and see an array of opportunities. Asking this one question – what are the benefits of the challenge being presented – will begin the process necessary for continuous innovation and prevent someone from getting stuck in the mud of disappointments.