Insight and experience, concentrated

Mirror Mirror, On The Floor…



There’s an oft-quoted product development story involving “slow” elevators.  In this story, passengers are complaining to building management about the lengthy waits for elevators in a tall building.  Most would-be problem solvers, when presented with this situation, attack the readily apparent source of the pain: slow elevator mechanisms.  The hero of the story decides that the real problem is that people think that elevators are too slow, and that perception is exacerbated by their boredom while waiting.  Ultimately, mirrors are installed in the lobby and the elevators themselves, passengers occupy themselves with checking their hair, outfit, (and yes, other occupants), and management is thrilled with the inexpensive and easy to implement solution to their problems.

This story is typically pulled out to show how impactful the definition of a problem is to the creative problem solving process, and how thinking within disciplinary boxes can lead us to overlook novel solutions.  It came to mind when I stayed at an Aloft hotel on a research trip and saw their familiar Liquid Lava™ floor tiles in the elevator.  I realized that these were a new twist on the classic elevator mirror.  They took this ubiquitous distractive element and elevated it slightly more toward actual engagement.  In a sense, Aloft managed to put “mirrors” on the floors of their elevators without the risqué/creepy implications – while creating an experience unique to their hotels.  They didn’t think outside the box, but rather rotated it on its side…



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