1. The Million Dollar Suitcase

Three suitcases are all labeled incorrectly, and you must get the labels right in order to find the million dollar suitcase (the one full of hundred dollar bills).

The labels on the suitcases read as follows:

$100 Bills
  $1 Bills
  Both ($100 & $1 Bills)
You are allowed one test. You may remove only one bill from a single suitcase, after which you must make your determination. You can’t peek into the suitcases. Can you find the million dollar suitcase?

Can this be done? If so, how? If not, why not?


  


  Hint and Learning

  Do you feel like you are missing all the data you need to deduce an answer? Most people do because they don’t take into account that the phrase “Three suitcases are all labeled incorrectly…” provides some really important information about what is not in each suitcase. This lack of clarification is a common pitfall in problem solving - especially creative problem solving. Next time you are faced with a difficult challenge try reviewing all the data and test your assumptions carefully. This can be a powerful method for elucidating the problem or reframing the challenge.

  Now go back and try solving the puzzle with this new clarity.

  


  


  Solution

  First, take one bill from the suitcase labeled “Both.” If that bill is a $1 bill, and since all suitcases are mislabeled, then that suitcase must be full of $1 bills.

  Since the one labeled “Both” has only $1 bills, that leaves the suitcase labeled “$100 bills” and the suitcase labeled “$1 bills.” Since, all suitcases are mislabeled, the suitcase labeled “$100 Bills” must not have $100 bills in it, and since we’ve already identified the $1 bill suitcase, it must have “Both.” and that leaves the suitcase labeled “$1 Bills,” which must be full of $100 bills (The Million Dollar Suitcase).

  If instead that first bill we pulled was a $100 bill, then we found our million dollar suitcase with the first try, woohoo!

  



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    The Million Dollar Suitcase


    Three suitcases are all labeled incorrectly, and you must get the labels right in order to find the million dollar suitcase (the one full of hundred dollar bills).


    The labels on the suitcases read as follows:


    • $100 Bills
    • $1 Bills
    • Both ($100 & $1 Bills)

    You are allowed one test. You may remove only one bill from a single suitcase, after which you must make your determination. You can’t peek into the suitcases. Can you find the million dollar suitcase?


    Can this be done? If so, how? If not, why not?




    • Share this with a friend or colleague.
    • Sign up for Monthly Innovation Exercises.

    See full post and discussion
    Posted: 1 year ago
  2. Portable Think Tank


    By Stavros Michailidis


    For some people, coming up with original ideas can be difficult. For others, it can be energizing and enjoyable.


    Here is a tool called Portable Think Tank that can help you generate unique ideas when you are stuck. I learned about it in an online course for training creative thinking. It is designed to spark ideas by thinking about them from others’ point of view – but who’s point of view is the important question.


    Step 1: Create a list of candidates for your Portable Think Tank


    • List the names of some great thinkers of today.
    • List the names of some great characters from history.
    • List the names of some of your favorite cartoon characters.
    • List the names of some of your favorite movie characters.
    • Finally, add the names of anyone else (real or fictional) who you think is fascinating, creative, or just plain funny.

    Step 2: Pick the top 10


    Think about the particular challenge you are facing and select candidates from your portable think tank. You can be deliberate or random in your selection.


    Step 3: Generate ideas to address your challenge


    Ask yourself, “How would __________ solve this challenge?” filling in the blank with the name of one of your Portable Think Tank members. Repeat this multiple times and for multiple people in your think tank. Try to generate at least 25 ideas.


    This is a great tool for quickly generating some novel thinking. It works particularly well in a group where you can build on one another’s responses. Whenever we’ve tried this the room is always brimming with energy, laughter, and great ideas.


    See full post and discussion
    Posted: 1 year ago
  3. 4 Opportunities for Innovation


    By Stavros Michailidis


    A short while ago, we conducted an informal survey of business leaders to explore how they perceived creativity, innovation and problem solving. We found that:


    • Problem Solving is something they, and the rest of their organization, are very familiar with and do continually.
    • Innovation is something that is paradigm shifting. It is desired but rare.
    • Creativity is less tangible. They realized it is required but are uncertain on how to account for it.

    Considering these common perceptions, let us look at a simple framework for turning problem solving into innovation utilizing a little bit of creativity.


    Traditional problem solving has 4 phases or steps.


    • Clarifying – Understanding the essence of the problem.
    • Solving – Searching for and identifying a solution.
    • Planning – Determining the steps necessary to implement the solution.
    • Executing – Implementing the plan.

    The above steps tend to work perfectly for many problems, especially the ones that don’t require a very innovative solution. However, if you need to work on a problem that would benefit from a little creativity and imagination, try capitalizing on the four opportunities for innovation (one for each problem solving step).


    Reframe the Problem


    Instead of simply clarifying the situation, find new ways to interpret the issue. Seek unique perspectives from those who don’t embrace the common understanding of the problem.


    Originate New Ideas


    Stop looking for the right answer and start looking for lots of interesting options. Think about it - If you find the most obvious and straightforward answer you are pretty much guaranteed to get the most common results. If you are really after innovation you must look for a different type of solution.


    Enhance the Plan

    Two companies can pursue essentially the same idea, with vastly different approaches (…think Encarta vs. Wikipedia). Innovation isn’t just about what we’re doing, it’s also about how we do things. New approaches generate new types of results and new opportunities.


    Improvise During Implementation


    Planning is a valuable process, but we must remain open to change as we execute the plan. Along the way we will face unforeseen obstacles and gain new insights. Remain flexible and adaptive during implementation. Be open to stumbling upon new value by continuously learning from the implementation processes’ successes and failures.


    Using some tried and tested tools and techniques individuals and groups can capitalize on these four opportunities for innovation.


    Use the comments to tell us about your success innovating around the 4 opportunities or which opportunity most interests you and we’ll share the respective tools you need to get creative.


    See full post and discussion
    Posted: 1 year ago
  4. Creative Ideas VS Creative Choices


    By Stavros Michailidis


    "For most organizations it isn’t difficult to get lots of creative ideas. What’s difficult is having the courage to make creative choices."


    Most innovation doesn’t come from novel ideas. It comes form novel choices. Typically, when faced with a problem, people will explore relatively few potential solutions before quickly making a decision on how to proceed. This is represented below by the narrow grey diamond. In an effort to create more novel results people will engage in brainstorming or other ideation processes to generate more creative ideas. However, this turns out to be quite futile if the same old criteria and decision methods are used to make a final choice. This second scenario is represented by the blue diamond below.

    The above scenario is not only futile, but harmful. When leaders ask constituents to generate novel ideas only to conclude on the same old safe decision, people become disenfranchised and embrace the belief that creativity isn’t worthwhile at their organization and they shouldn’t waste their time generating novel solutions.


    However, if we also make novel choices we create the opportunity for innovation and novel outcomes. (green line).

    Not only will this generate more novel solutions, it will also energize and inspire staff to be engaged in innovation leading to an upward spiral of creative competence for individuals and innovation capacity for the organization.


    It wouldn’t be fair to end this article without acknowledging how difficult and risky it is to make novel choices. This is true, however this does not make it impossible to do so. By testing and refining solutions, identifying and addressing risk & exposure and placing small incremental bets along the way to a new solution we can pursue creative choices in a safe and controlled way.


    More on how to think about risk & exposure coming soon…


    See full post and discussion
    Posted: 2 years ago
  5. Building Momentum for Great Ideas

    A TED Talk from Stavros Michailidis


    Is there an invisible element at play that’s determining the fate of our projects and initiatives? What if we could become aware of that element, understand it, measure it, and affect it? Would we ever look at creativity, innovation, and leadership the same?


    "Ideas are like
    snowflakes.”
    In March, Stavros along with five other speakers shared their ideas with TEDxGramercy. Stavros’ TED Talk outlined how to build momentum for our ideas. Whether we’re entrepreneurs, teachers, leaders at large organizations or government agencies, we all need our ideas to have mass, speed, and direction.


    The next time you set out to bring an idea to life, or move a project forward, don’t focus on how hard you need to push to get something to move forward, instead think about how to bestow direction, attract mass, and add speed. Think about how to build momentum!


    See full post and discussion
    Posted: 2 years ago