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Newsletter #988: The “You’re Looking at the Problem Wrong” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I’d Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.]

Ideas that make other people say “Damn, I wish I’d thought of that!” don’t come from rocket scientists. They come from people like you who look at problems from different angles and approach solutions in different ways.

Here are three examples to inspire you:

1. It’s not about the product, it’s what you do with it
2. It’s not about the first impression, it’s about the last one
3. It’s not about solving one problem, it’s about solving lots of them
4. Check it out: Publishers map out a new viral tactic

1. It’s not about the product, it’s what you do with it

Beer glasses have a problem when it comes to word of mouth. There’s not much to say about them — sometimes they’re frosted, sometimes they’re shaped funny, but that’s about it. So the folks at Fischer & Friends looked at the challenge differently and came up with the Offline Glass, a beer glass that only stands up when it’s resting on your phone. They focused on the conversations people have around beer glasses, instead of what goes in them or what they look like.

The lesson: A beer glass is a beer glass is a beer glass (yes, even if it’s a fancy beer glass). How do you get people to talk about something like a beer glass? You focus on the people instead of the product.

Learn more: NPR

2. It’s not about the first impression, it’s about the last one

Can you imagine how hard it is to make packing tape remarkable? There’s a lot of tape in the world — lots of different colors, sizes, and tools to go with it. But to make tape worth talking about, The Rip Cord looked at the problem differently. They focused on the most frustrating part of packing tape: getting it off the box. They created a packing tape with a cord down the middle to help you remove it without any hassle. It makes moving a little less painful, and it even means that more cardboard gets recycled because customers can cleanly and easily pull the tape off.

The lesson: While other companies are figuring out ways to make tape stickier, stronger, or clearer, The Rip Cord focused on what makes the last impression: pulling it off.

Learn more: PSFK

3. It’s not about solving one problem, it’s about solving lots of them

Health studies show loneliness can be as bad for the elderly as smoking. What does that have to do with gardening? A lot if you’re Sprout, a concept program that pairs up elderly folks who can no longer tend their home gardens with schools looking for a natural classroom. The children get an opportunity to learn hands-on about gardening and nature, while the elderly get some help with their backyards and some social interaction during the day.

The lesson: Stop looking at one problem at a time. Instead, look for where multiple problems overlap.

Learn more: Fast Company

4. Check it out: Publishers map out a new viral tactic

Why are maps so popular on social media? Because they’re just plain cool. Check out Digiday’s take on it, plus links to maps people love to share.

Check it out: Digiday

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