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Innovation Insights
by Stephen Shapiro

glass of water on black background

Are You A Pessimist, Optimist, Engineer, or Innovator?

I’m locked away in a hotel this week working on my next book. Today I want to share one small section which gets at the heart of the premise. It’s a story you may have heard, with a twist…
 
Although you may have heard the story of the optimist and pessimist who look at a half-filled glass of water, you probably only know half the story. There are two other individuals who are part of the conversation: an engineer and an innovator.
 
The optimist looks at the glass and says, “The glass is half full.”
 
The pessimist looks at the same glass and replies, “No, the glass is half empty.”
 
The engineer analyzes the situation and says, “There’s too much glass. Cut off the top.”
 
The innovator steps back and asks, “Why do we even need a glass? What do they really need? Hydration? Is there a better way to quench someone’s thirst?”
 
Although simple, this example highlights the power of innovative thinking. By asking better questions about the wants and needs of our customers, we can deliver more valuable solutions. Unlike the engineer who looks at the current solution and tries to improve it (and no, I’m not dissing engineers as I am one by education), the innovator steps back to the beginning and rethinks the “why.” Why are we developing this product or service? What’s the real problem we are trying to solve?