If He’d Only Thought

By Pamela A. Scott

This week’s tale is one that was told to me. I wasn’t involved in the solution, but the story provides a great learning/teaching point about thinking all the way through a problem.

I share it with you knowing that we have architects as well as engineers in our community. Promise not to point fingers at the other side and say with a snarl, “What’d you expect?”

An accomplished architect designed a new elementary school building for a private academy. When the building was finished, all involved toured the structure and admired the wonderful use of natural light through the innovative design.

When the tour moved outside, the headmaster groaned. The beautiful building, with its innovative use of windows, was edged with beds of rocks. Not pebbles, but good solid rocks—the throwing kind. The kind little kids used to break windows and to throw at each other.

Somewhere in his thinking, the architect stopped thinking about the goals for the building. It was to house kids from the age of 5 to 12. If the architect had really thought through how the building would be used, he would have chosen a different material to put around the building.

That’s what happens when we don’t think fully through a problem. When you are tackling an issue and think you have the solution, ask yourself five more questions about the problem. Force your thinking to go further. You will almost always find a better solution in asking those questions.

Questions to provoke your thinking:

  1. If money were no object, how would we do this?  Use your response to dig into how you might achieve similar results but with less money.
  2. What are we forgetting?
  3. Who else is going to use this product/service? What do they want?
  4. What are we missing?

Have fun. And put the rock down. You know your mother told you never to throw rocks.


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