Elegant Solutions


Eastside Annual Dinner keynote speaker Matthew May prodded and encouraged attendees to step outside their comfort zone and to reach for elegant solutions to problems and challenges. May encouraged business leaders to find the simplest, cheapest, least-intrusive, most effective changes you can make to a system, but also take time to slow down and ask questions to reach these solutions. He encouraged leaders to not overthink a problem or to jump to a conclusion.

He showed us ways for us to use our brains to “win” consistently in a world of disruption. He challenged us to use mindful thinking to get a new competitive edge.

Recognizing the world is getting more complex and moving faster – this often pressures us to reach for fast solutions that might not be the best. He used an example of a luxury health club with 40 shower stalls, each equipped with a free standing full-sized bottle of salon-exclusive shampoo. The problem the health club had was they had a 33% theft rate of club members stealing the shampoo bottles. So, with the goal of:

  • 100% theft elimination
  • Not to change/end the current offering (full-size, free standing)
  • No additional burden on the patrons
  • Extremely low, preferably no cost (pennies on the bottle)
  • Easy to implement, no disruption of normal club operation.

He challenged us to solve the problem. Yes, as you can imagine there were tons of ideas and solutions brainstormed. None of which met all of the requirements above. Things like: installing locks around the containers; putting the shampoo in unmarked bottles; giving out free-samples at the front desk; hiring shower security guards…and the list went on.

The simple, yet elegant solution was…removing the lids to the bottles. May then walked us through the seven fatal flaws of thinking and how to fix them so we can have “Elegant Solutions” in our businesses and daily lives.  He ended with a mantra of….

  • What appears to be the problem isn’t;
  • What appears to be the solution isn’t;
  • What appears to be impossible isn’t.

…and encouraged us to look at issues from a different perspective since that is where the solutions become elegant.

To find additional details on how you can overcome the fatal flaws check out Matthew May’s latest book Winning the Brain Game. Or to help you with Elegant Solutions on what is instore for our economy in 2017…save the date and plan join us for the Eastside Economic Forecast Breakfast November 17!