Step Stool Challenge

September 10, 2015
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When under the constraints of time, sometimes you reason with yourself that you just need to start building and hope that it works out. For some reason there’s this “just do something” motive in our head, that tells us to just get going already! Well fortunately there is also reason, and if there is anything I learned during this lesson it’s that reason should always trump instincts.

After about 10 or so minutes trying to plan a strategy for how to build the step stool my team and I basically just threw our hands up in the hair and went with the “just do something” method. It was, needless to say, a failure. Innovation challenges are always about how you manage your time and a lot of the time if you’re not physically doing something you feel like you’re wasting that precious time and, as is most appropriately true in this case, time is money. And so we just went with it – no real full proof plan, just started cutting 6x8 squares hoping that it would all work out.

What we should’ve done is spent the majority of our time strategizing rather than building. For as long as a time that it takes building a bridge, it takes just as long of time coming up with appropriate architecture  to make sure that it will hold cars, finding the right materials to construct the bridge, making sure it’s a reasonable cost, getting the city or state governments on deal with the project, etc. There’s simply a lot of planning involved in any infrastructure project and ours should have been handled the same way. Even though our brainstorming had left us fruitless after 10 minutes we should have devoted more time – maybe another 10 minutes in fact – to more brainstorming. It’s obvious that the team that won, had done the most planning and the least constructing. I was keeping an eye on the other tables and they didn’t end up building until the last 10 minutes and that’s because they had a full-proof plan that they knew through and through and so it would be easy to implement. Ours was exactly the other way around and we lost because of it.

So in life we should plan before we just start doing something. For class scheduling you need to sit down and plan out years in advance instead of just winging it and picking some random classes that might fill a need or interests you – every credit hour counts towards something and you want to make sure you’re maximizing the ones given to you. And in work when I’m given a task by my boss I can’t just hammer it out on a whim. No I need to formulate a strategy for how I am going to tackle that task, just like my abysmal failure at the innovation challenge taught me.

Winning Reflection - Dan Baran

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