A long time ago there was a great General who was faced with a situation which made it necessary for him to make a drastic decision to insure his success on the battlefield. He was about to send his army on shore to face a powerful enemy, whose men outnumbered his. He loaded his soldiers into boats, and sailed to face the enemies on shore. When they reached the shore, he ordered them to unload the soldiers and cargoes. He then ordered for all the ships and boats to be burned. Addressing his men before the battle, he said, "You see the ships and boats going up in smoke. That means that we cannot leave these shores alive unless we win!
We now, have no choice - either we win, or we perish."
They WON !
When NASA began the launch of astronauts into space, they found out that the pens wouldn't work at zero gravity (Ink won't flow down to the writing surface). In order to solve this problem, it took them one decade and $12 million. They developed a pen that worked at zero gravity, upside down, underwater, in practically any surface including crystal and in a temperature range from below freezing to over 300 degrees C.
And what did Russian do......................................??
The Russians used a Pencil !!!
3. A soap factory:
One of the most memorable case studies I came across on Japanese management was the case of the empty soap box, which happened in one of Japan's biggest cosmetics companies. The company received a complaint that a consumer had bought a soap box that was empty. Immediately the authorities isolated the problem to the assembly line, which transported all the packaged boxes of soap to the delivery department. For some reason, each time, one soap box went through the assembly line empty. Management asked its engineers to solve the problem. Post-haste, the engineers worked hard to devise an X-ray machine with high-resolution monitors manned by two people to watch all the soap boxes that passed through the line to make sure they were not empty. No doubt, they worked hard and they worked fast, but they spent a whopping amount to do so.
But when a rank-and-file employee in a small company was posed with the same problem, he did not get into complications of X-rays, etc but instead came out with another solution. He bought a strong industrial electric fan and pointed it at the assembly line. He switched the fan on, and as each soap box passed the fan, it simply blew the empty boxes out of the line.
Moral of the story:
"Always look for simple solutions. Devise the simplest possible solution that solves the problem. So, learn to focus on solutions, not on problems"