Save 95 Percent of Your Time and Effort with 2,000 Percent Solutions

No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings.

― John F. Kennedy

An emergency room (ER) nurse kept hearing complaints from patients who had been waiting for hours to see a doctor. After reading The 2,000 Percent Solution, she began to keep track of how long it took various kinds of patients to get the attention they needed. She was shocked to find that those who were too sick or injured to explain their problems but who appeared to be okay sometimes waited for more than 10 hours ― even if they needed immediate treatment. This nurse shared her concerns with the other ER nurses and physicians. They discussed possible solutions and decided to train the guards at the door to spot people who couldn’t explain about themselves and bring a triage nurse immediately to check the patient. Waiting time for these vulnerable, hard-to-diagnose patients dropped to less than 10 minutes. Although her colleagues didn’t know it, they had just put in place a 2,000 percent solution.

A 2,000 percent solution is any method of accomplishing what your organization does now with zero-to-four percent of the current time and resources, or accomplishing an increase of 20 times in results while employing the same or fewer resources. A combination of those results can also be a 2,000 percent solution.

That much improvement probably sounds pretty extreme to you. It shouldn’t. We’ve all seen 2,000 percent solutions, but we don’t usually label them as such. For example, a slow reader takes a course in better reading methods. Reading speed increases from 100 words to 1,100 words a minute while comprehension of what is read doubles. The reading speed increase is a 10-fold improvement, [(1,100 – 100)/100 = 10], and the doubling of comprehension allows twice as much to be comprehended in whatever reading time is involved. When you multiply reading 10 times faster by double the comprehension, you have a 2,000 percent solution ― a 2,000 percent increase in reading comprehension per minute from the same time and effort.

What brought 2,000 percent solutions to my attention? I was attracted to this subject of creating 2,000 percent solutions because my family depended on a small business when I was growing up, and 2,000 percent solutions made an enormous difference in this operation and in my life. I hope this concept will do the same for you, your family, and your business or nonprofit organization, whether you lead it or simply work there.

Let’s look at some more examples to help you grasp what a 2,000 percent solution is. Technology often helps us speed results without increasing resources. For example, you can send material halfway around the world now in an e-mail for a tiny fraction of the cost and time of sending an air courier package. E-mail is also a 2,000 percent solution compared to the best method commonly available 20 years ago: sending a facsimile.

Thinking more clearly about the implications of what needs to be done can have a similar effect without waiting for technology to advance. For instance, many electronic products are now designed to have many fewer parts than the products they replace. As a result, repairing products with fewer parts takes much less time and reduces costs. For more expensive products, the parts are often monitored electronically to note when they are about to fail. The message that equipment failure is imminent is sent to the repair person before the failure. The part is replaced, and the customer never experiences a problem. Repeat sales and profits improve as a result. For less expensive products, online resources allow customers to diagnose their problems, implement the proper solutions, and receive faster results at much less cost than providing hands-on repairs.

Sharing helpful information throughout organizations has had similar effects. Many organizations now use business intelligence software that allows everyone to know what performance is in the activities each person influences. As a result, fewer problems occur and the solutions come faster and less expensively.

More recently, organizations have learned to access better ideas inexpensively by involving large numbers of experts through online contests. Goldcorp was a pioneer in this effort when it sponsored the Goldcorp Challenge in March 2000. Many of the world’s best geologists looked at Goldcorp’s exploratory drilling results online and produced a number of excellent suggestions. By spending a few hundred thousand dollars for a Web site and prizes, Goldcorp located new gold reserves worth hundreds of millions.

Topping that success, Larry Huston, vice president of R&D, Innovation, and Knowledge for Procter & Gamble (P&G), reported in October 2005 that P&G had run more than 200 versions of the Goldcorp Challenge since 2000. These contests had yielded innovations with a success rate of over 80 percent, increased the company’s R&D productivity by 45 percent, and provided 35 percent of all of P&G’s successful innovations in recent years.

From these examples, you can see that breakthroughs are possible for providing 2,000 percent solutions to the most important organizational tasks. By considering these examples, I hope you’ll be able to see possible variations on their themes to establish 2,000 percent solutions for important tasks where no one yet dreams of such improvements.

Copyright 2007 Donald W. Mitchell, All Rights Reserved