I have just finished reading Tim Brown’s new book, “Change By Design.” Tim is the CEO and President of IDEO, the amazingly versatile, design-centric global consultancy. While there are many excellent passages about “design thinking,” as an entrepreneur I am always considering the Monday morning question. Whenever I listen to a conference speaker or read a business book I ask myself, “But what will I do differently on Monday morning?”
The curse of the pragmatic, I suppose.
In any case, for me it was Brown’s advice to open your eyes to the everyday things you never really notice. “How far back should you stand from the person in front of you? Why are manhole covers round? What would it be like to be color-blind?”
Brown goes on to say that “Good design thinkers observe. Great design thinkers observe the ordinary.” I love that. And I think that’s what a lot of writers and photographers and book creators do. They observe … and then create. I know that’s what I do.
So, I am now committed to observing one “ordinary” thing every day. Today’s candidate is the toothpaste tube. Now I should tell you that I am a habitué of the old fashioned, for real, toothpaste tube – not the new stand-up pump-y things. So I started to think about how much toothpaste do we throw away in an “empty” tube, which reminded me of a long-forgotten study that a friend of mine did at University a zillion years ago.(Maybe this is the point of observing the ordinary – considering the ordinary creates connections and patterns not otherwise obvious.)
In any case he studied how much of the egg white was discarded when cracking an egg open and removing the shells. I remember it was a big number – something like 18%.
Are we wasting 18% of the toothpaste every time we discard a tube? What would a more efficient dispenser of toothpaste look like? How would it work? And off I go … contemplating the ordinary, a practice I’ll try to keep up, even after the next Monday morning question comes around.