Simplicity, Creativity and Practicality
Some years ago, I heard a very popular story about the space race between two prominent nations, which carries a strong message of simplicity, creativity and practicality. I have now learned that the story is a myth, but nevertheless I continue to be impressed with the message of the story. The story, which many of you have heard or read countless times goes like this: during the space race age the one nation’s astronauts realized that they could not use a pen in space. Because of gravity dynamics the ink in the pen would become unstable and the pen could not write in space. This presented a challenge as astronauts needed to take notes. It is said that to fix this problem millions in dollars were spent in research and development to create a pen that could write in space. Apparently, the other nation’s astronauts resolved to take a pencil to space. According to the story the latter saved a lot of time and money by taking a simple, creative and practical route. According to experts the solution of a pencil in space, in practice, is also a bad idea. But nevertheless, I remain intrigued by the message of simplicity, creativity and practicality carried in the tale.
We are often confronted by challenges in our lives and in our work environment. Because we are perhaps directly affected and consumed by the need for solutions, we sometimes overlook solutions that are existing. This is because we sometimes immediately perceive a challenge to be a problem. A problem by its nature requires a solution and a solution requires us to get to work, lineup resources and find it (the solution).
I listen quite a lot and hence this story caught my ear. One of the things which I have also heard is that not all closed doors are locked doors. Sometimes a situation does not require a solution it requires action. Like taking a pencil when a pen cannot write or extending your hand to a doorknob of a closed door and opening it.
All things considered I guess it is also correct to say that every situation has its solution. The point which I make is that not all solutions need to be created. This is perhaps properly reflected in the phrase that says do not reinvent the wheel. Simple, creative and practical works. I hope each and everyone of you finds a solution and/or takes the necessary action to solve whatever challenge you may be facing and in doing so consider simplicity, creativity and practicality.
Joseph Leotlela | Director