Everyone wants to think of something new—to solve a problem
no one else can solve. And every business wants to encourage its
employees to have the next great idea. But creativity is not the same as
hard work and effort; it requires genuine inspiration. It is the product
of a mind thoroughly intrigued by a situation. Thus, creativity comes
not when we are paid or rewarded, but when we focus our attention on
something because we want to.
JAPAN RAILWAYS EAST had the contract to build a bullet train between Tokyo
and Nagano to be put in place in time for the 1998 Winter Olympics.
Unfortunately, the tunnels the company built through the mountains
kept fi lling with water. The company brought in a highly paid team of
engineers to come up with the best solution. The engineers analyzed the
problems and drew up an extensive set of plans to build an expensive
drainage system and a system of aqueducts to divert the water out of the
A thirsty maintenance worker one day came up with a different solution
when he bent over and took a large swallow of the tunnel water. It
tasted great, better than the bottled water he had in his lunch pail.
He told his boss they should bottle the tunnel water it and sell it as
premium mineral water.
Thus was born Oshimizu bottled water, which the railroad sells not
only from vending machines on its platforms but now also by home
A huge cost was transformed into a huge profi t, all by someone looking
at the situation differently.
Studies in which people were offered money in exchange for creative solutions
to problems found that monetary rewards were unrelated to peoples’
capacity to offer original ideas. (Cooper et al. 1999)