Fuel INjected In-house: Stuck on a problem? Try Operation Opposite.


by Sam Harrison


Jack Nicklaus designs golf courses all over the world – and in some countries, such as India, there’s limited land. Traditionally, golf courses have been built on 100 – 200 acres. But in India, Nicklaus was approached about building course on 50 or 60 acres.


So how did he solve the problem? Easy. Rather than designing a golf course to match the amount of land needed for existing golf balls, he redesigned the ball to match the existing amount of land.


“We’ve been doing it backward,” he told interviewer Charlie Rose. “Changing a ball is cheap. Design the ball to match the course, rather than designing the course to match the existing ball..”


In my first book, ZING!, I call this Operation Opposite or “flip.”  If you’re facing a problem, flip things over and head in the opposite direction.


That’s what Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak did when they looked at the complexity of personal computers and came up with an easy-to-use machine.


That’s what Warby Parker’s three young founders did when they looked at the price tags and pretentiousness of retail eyeglasses and began offering inexpensive, fun-to-order online glasses.


When facing problems within our organization, it’s often easy to go with the flow and try to fix things with traditional, company-issued solutions.


Instead, if you find yourself stuck, try Operation Opposite. Flip things over, inside out, upside down. Take a u-turn and head in the opposite direction. Your answer may be a step or two behind you.


Sam Harrison is the opening keynote speaker at this year’s inHOWse Conference in San Francisco.  Sam is a speaker, workshop leader and writer on creativity-related topics and presentation skills. His books include IdeaSelling: Successfully pitch your creative ideas to bosses, clients and other decision makers, IdeaSpotting: How to find your next great idea, and Zing!: Five steps and 101 tips for creativity on command. Find him at www.zingzone.com