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Imagine the Best and the Worst Conditions to Create the Best Breakthrough

Jan 26, 2008
A good place to start with developing a strategy is by imagining that the 20 times expansion of consumption, practices, or usage of your offerings has already occurred because obstacles to that expansion have been eliminated. Imagine also that everyone is very pleased that this expansion has taken place. Here are eight questions to help you gain insights from this musing:

1. Why is everyone pleased that the expansion has occurred?

2. How could people be even more pleased?

3. What changed from before the expansion to after?

4. Why didn't those helpful changes occur sooner?

5. How could the pace of progress have been accelerated?

6. What one approach could have eliminated more of the early obstacles?

7. What could have accelerated the best obstacle-obliterating approach?

8. What can be done in the next hour to start implementing that approach?

Let's take an example of a difficult problem, changing behaviors in relationship to AIDS, and answer the questions to make this mental process seem more real.

1. Everyone is pleased after almost everyone uses AIDS infection-avoiding behaviors because:

-New infections virtually stop.

-People have less reason to fear being infected and feel less stressed in their personal relationships.

-People will lose fewer loved ones than would otherwise occur.

-The strain on health care resources and families will stop growing at some point.

2. People could be more pleased if:

-The number of new infections dropped sooner.

-No one had reason to fear becoming infected.

-People lost no more loved ones.

-The strain on health care resources and families was already declining.

3. Here's what changed from before the expansion of the improved behavior to after:

-Everyone learned how to avoid contracting AIDS.

-People became careful not to use drugs and alcohol to excess so their judgment did not become impaired.

-People who are infected with HIV or AIDS always shared that information with others.

-People who are going to use intravenous needles and have sexual relations with multiple partners always have access to unused needles and condoms.

-Important social advantages are gained by volunteers who help AIDS patients.

-Health-care technology improves so that health care workers are seldom infected through contact with HIV or AIDS patients.

4. Here are some reasons why this changed behavior didn't occur sooner:

-There was an incorrect belief that only homosexuals were at risk.

-Ignorance existed about the enormous social costs of an AIDS infection.

-There was no social consensus to eliminate AIDS.

-Discussing AIDS carried a social stigma.

-People had few incentives to be tested for AIDS.

-AIDS tests were unaffordable for many people.

-Using excessive amounts of drugs and alcohol was socially acceptable for some.

-Being known as someone who was infected with AIDS could cost your job, your health insurance, access to health care, and sexual contacts.

-Clean needles and unused condoms were not readily available for all.

-Caring for AIDS patients was considered undesirable and dangerous by most people.

-Safe health-care technologies were affordable only for some.

5. Here are some possible ways that progress could have been accelerated:

-Mandatory, universal testing.

-Universal disclosure of AIDS infection status -- perhaps through a card with a record of past test results.

-Mandatory testing of knowledge about AIDS, such as in connection with driver's licensing and renewals.

-Free distribution of new intravenous needles and condoms.

-Economic and social incentives to care for AIDS patients who had followed good practices to minimize the chances of others being infected.

-Economic benefits for AIDS patients who followed good practices to minimize infecting others.

6. Reasonable people will differ on this point, but a few of these potential approaches could have made a large difference in eliminating more early obstacles. Mandatory testing of knowledge about AIDS is probably the least costly, fastest route to cutting off the spread of infections. In many countries, you are required to take blood tests before you marry, have your car inspected for safety before you drive it, use seat belts when you drive, and pass a test before you can become a citizen.

It would not be too far-fetched to require that you to know how to live a normal lifespan by avoiding a deadly plague. From this reasonably universal knowledge could come a social consensus to take the other inexpensive, helpful steps such as mandatory testing, universal disclosure of AIDS infection status, and free distribution of new needles and condoms.

7. The best obstacle-obliterating approach regarding relationship behaviors concerning AIDS is communication. The challenge is to emphasize obstacle obliterating with communications about changing behaviors that affect AIDS infections.

This analysis suggests that a focus on overcoming the communications stall about AIDS was a potentially potent approach to eliminating obstacles. The likely best approach is to enroll the most admired and persuasive community member to head up the effort of enrolling other leaders into a combined effort.

Ideally, this person should be someone who has played a similar role before. In the United States, a widely admired former president of the country could play such a role. Since there are two major political parties in the United States, a team of widely admired former presidents from each party would probably be even more successful.

Former president Clinton already has a foundation dedicated to this issue, and he has partnered with former president George H. W. Bush on tsunami relief. Perhaps that partnership could be extended to this problem, as well. The two men would be highly effective both in recruiting other leaders in the United States as well as visible leaders in communities around the world.

A cadre of visible leaders from various celebrity fields could each donate a million dollars to fund the recruitment effort to put the right leaders together. If you made the social cachet of joining the group strong enough, there are few limits to how much could be accomplished. Each country and community has its equivalent potential core of support for such an effort. If you like this possible approach, feel free to share this idea with those who can play that role in your community.

By lining up the most esteemed members of a community or society to espouse learning about AIDS-avoiding practices, you should soon create a situation where universal testing of that knowledge would be deemed acceptable. Governmental and nonprofit-led initiatives would soon fill in the gaps in knowledge.

8. As for what can be done in the next hour to start accelerating that approach, someone who knows the leaders who are the best candidates to spearhead the approach can call on those leaders. Be sure that follow-up is frequent.

Now, it's time for you to apply these eight perspectives to finding your best path to growth. Good luck!
About the Author
Donald Mitchell is an author of seven books including Adventures of an Optimist, The 2,000 Percent Squared Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution Workbook, The Irresistible Growth Enterprise, and The Ultimate Competitive Advantage. Read about creating breakthroughs through 2,000 percent solutions and receive tips by e-mail by registering for free at

http://www.2000percentsolution.com .
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