Solve > Criticize
Finding opportunity in broken things
In every criticism lies opportunity. Every time we criticize something, we are shining a light on something that can be done differently, an opportunity that can be exploited.
But it never occurs to us that we could be the ones to do something about it. We say ‘not my job’ and move on. But most innovations happened because someone did not think it was someone else’s job.
Whenever something frustrates us, something at work, a bad customer experience, or anything that doesn’t work as it should, a question arises: how would we do it differently?
If it affects you personally, you have a great situation on your hands. You have found something that bugs you personally and you also have a good sense of what exactly went wrong.
This means that we can find a unique way to solve a problem right at the moment we are feeling most frustrated by that very problem. The brain is somehow not just content to fret over what has gone wrong; it immediately jumps to problem solving mode and starts imagining what else could’ve happened.
When we are deeply frustrated by a moment, we can’t help but imagine how it should have been done. This is the flash of inspiration you need in order to start something new. Only condition is, we must pause and think.
Most startup advice falls along similar lines: start by paying attention to your own problems and figure out how you would solve them. In Antifragile, Nassim Taleb makes an insightful observation that we need randomness to spoon-feed us with discoveries. It is possible to find a solution by thinking our way to it, but it is rare that we can find a problem worth solving that way.
So, the frustration we feel when faced with a broken product or process is actually a gift from randomness. If we pay close attention, it can tell us about an underlying reality that can be exploited for innovation.
This is also how you answer the famous Peter Thiel question: what is the thing most other people disagree with you on? The definition of a secret today is not what is hidden from plain sight. It is what plainly lies out in the open, but is ignored by most people.
A secret doesn’t have to be something complicated. It can be so a simple way to solve a universal frustration that everyone dismisses it as too simplistic.
Things don’t improve because we expect others to solve everything. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. 7 billion people means 7 billion unique experiences happening every single moment on Earth. What can we achieve if instead of complaining, we only stop and think: how could this be different?