Before heading to outer space, the United States invited the consulting firm, Arthur Anderson now known as Accenture and invested roughly $25million in a bid to find a solution for a ballpoint pen whose ink wouldn’t float when they entered space with zero gravity.
Why spend so much money on a pen?
Well they needed their astronauts to take data recordings and make jottings and so obviously a pen was required. Duh!
So after months of research and countless prototypes and testing. The consultants eventually got a pen that could write even in zero gravity. It was a victory.
When the Soviet Union were space-ready and wanted to borrow the same pen from the United States, they got a flat “No”. Not strange since both nations are rivals at nearly everything. But the Soviet Union were already behind on the race to space and couldn’t afford to spend more time developing a zero-gravity pen. So they simply sent their astronauts out there with pencils. Mission accomplished!
Sometimes we get so focused on achieving a specific function that we forget the main objective. The function here was to get a pen that could write data but the major objective was to write in the first place! Pens, pencils, crayons or quill can all achieve the same objective.
In your personal life or business, this scenario could also be playing out daily. You could be hitting your head on a wall or stuck in a helpless state. It could be as a result of asking the wrong question. Consider taking a step back and reframing your problems or business challenge, you’ll find out that the resources have always been there. You just have never looked at it that way!
Ask a better question. Instead of “How can we get our pens to write in zero gravity?” you might want to ask, “What can be a perfect substitute for a pen?”.
The better the quality of your questions, the better answers you will come up with. Here’s an example, rather than ask when setting up a new business, “What if this fails?” try asking “What if this succeeds?” You’ll find yourself more motivated and inspired. The type of questions you ask will determine your focus and interpretation of events around you.