Other way Around

In my book, da Vinci and the 40 Answers, we talk about how you can solve any problem through the power of TRIZ. One of the forty lenses, or answers, is called the Other Way Round; how to reverse it or do it differently. And I want to show you a few examples from the book.

One way to do this is to make movable parts for the external environment fixed, and the fixed parts movable. For example, a moving sidewalk with people standing still. You can also turn the object or the process upside down, like turning an assembly upside down to insert parts.

There are lots of examples of this principle.

If you lived in a country inundated with fast food restaurants, a smart business plan might be to open up a slow food restaurant to differentiate yourself from the competition. Do the opposite of what everyone else is doing and you’ll stand out from the crowd.

You could also benchmark yourself against the worst, rather than the best in your field. Compare your business to the worst company in the industry and discover all the ways NOT to do things so that you don’t end up doing them. Again, do the opposite.

Kary Mullis won the 1993 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his development of the Polymerized Chain Reaction or PCR. PCR is the cornerstone of biochemistry and molecular biology because the technology allows for the amplification of DNA sequences. A great deal of Kary’s work revolves around the principle of doing things the other way around.

While everyone else in the world was trying to find the figurative needle in a haystack and chemically find and hold DNA, Kary decided to let the DNA replicate itself instead. Rather than looking for the needle in the haystack, Kary let the needle reproduce itself billions and billions of times so the DNA was easier to find and capture. By doing things the other way around, Dr. Mullis received the highest honors in his fields.

A few more examples.

How about if you start writing your novel in the middle of the story? What about clock faces where the numbers go backwards, counter-clockwise? Or how about a high-heeled women’s shoe where the heel is horizontal off the front of the shoe instead of vertical off the heel?

My friend, Peter Nevlin, recently applied this lens, or answer, other way around, to an interesting experiment. Instead of standing on the side of the road begging for money, he thought, “What if I gave money away—what would happen?”

Now, you might think all this playing around wouldn’t lead to anything practical, but after Peter got thousands and thousands of hits on YouTube in the first couple of days, it gave him a great business idea. He is going to shoot a dozen more videos, a series of them, where he gives money away at festivals or pays for somebody’s groceries or actually compares and sees the difference between different age groups.

The business idea ? He is getting fortune 500 companies to sponsor it !

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