Last Saturday, my son Alex participated in a program called One Day Only. Hosted by his high school theatre department, the event challenged students to write, cast, and stage a 10 minute play within twelve hours of starting. They had to create sets, arrange costumes, and locate props – all while memorizing and rehearsing their lines. I dropped Alex off at 8 am and returned at 7 pm to watch five complete productions unfold before my eyes.
It’s amazing what a motivated group of people can do when they work together, despite a shortage of time and resources. When the pressure is on, those determined to succeed always manage to find a way. In fact, it appears that being under pressure often brings out your creative side. I have often found that a group’s best work comes from having to produce high quality work very quickly. Without the normal bells and whistles at our disposal, things that can quickly become crutches, we are forced to think in new and different ways; better ways.
Today’s businesses need better ways of thinking. Competition is fiercer than ever. Outside regulation continues to tighten. Budgets are smaller than ever. It’s often said that we can’t continue to do the same things and expect different results. We have to shake things up.
Big leaps usually come from small groups attempting to remove some kind of thorn in their side. A problem is identified for which there is no solution, or at least no good solution. So they decide to put their heads together and resolve the issue on their own. In the process, they often wind up creating the next big thing. They develop a new product or service that can be offered to others; because any problem your team is wrestling with is undoubtedly an obstacle for others as well.
So I’d like to issue a challenge to you and your team. Given that we all have our normal jobs to take care of, I’m calling it One Week Only.
First identify a problem you’d like to solve; something that’s holding your group back. Next, put your heads together and come up with a working solution to the problem by the end of this week. Finally, send me a short video, no more than five minutes long, demonstrating your solution by the end of the day on Friday. Make sure your solution actually achieves the goal without additional work or resources. An idea that requires something extra to get off the ground doesn’t count. Just like the kids participating in One Day Only you have to use what is immediately available to produce a finished product.
I’ll choose one video as the winner of the challenge and will use this week to come up with some type of cool prize for the team involved. Keeping with the spirit of the challenge, I’ll use only my brain and what I have on hand. The winners are guaranteed something just as unique as what they come up with.
Of course this is a purely voluntary exercise; but I’d say your odds of winning are pretty good. The vast majority of people reading this won’t participate. But that’s ok. The unmotivated wouldn’t come up with anything worth sharing anyway. And the more that choose to opt out, the better the odds become for the few mavericks just crazy enough to accept the challenge.
After the curtain fell on the final scene Saturday night, Alex told me that his day had been exhausting, frequently frustrating, and ultimately the most fun he’s ever had in theatre. Being part of the creative process and seeing a fully developed production come to life in such a short amount of time was incredibly rewarding. He’s eager to sign up for the next round.
I’m eager to see what you come up with by the end of the day on Friday. As they say in the biz, “Break a leg!”