The story about the clean and the dirty toilets

There are often simple solutions to most problems if you have the ability to think differently.

ToiletI recently came across this thought-provoking story on the power of lateral thinking, i.e. thinking outside the proverbial box. Russi Mody, the legendary Chairman of Tata Steel from 1984-1993, was once holding a weekly meeting with Tata Steel staff  when a worker took up a niggling issue.

He said the quality and hygiene of toilets for workers was very bad. Whereas, he pointed out, the cleanliness of the executive toilets was always very good.

Mr Mody asked his top executive how much time he would need to set it right.
The executive asked for a month to set it right. Mr Mody then said “I would rather do it in a day. Send me a carpenter.”

Next day, when the carpenter came, he ordered the signboards to be swapped !!!
The signboard on the “Workers” toilet was changed to “Executives” and Executive toilet to “Workers”.

The Tata Chairman then gave instructions to inter-change it every fortnight!
The quality of both toilets became on par in 3 days time. A solution that was immediate and lasting for both! 🙂

The learning from this message is that problem identification requires critical thinking, but but problem solution sometimes requires creative thinking.

Illustration: Pixabay.com – markusspiske

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Author: Karl Ekdahl

International public health leader and creativity blogger.