Contact theSOPAbout theSOPSupport theSOPWritersEditorsManaging Editors
theSOP logo
Published:March 31st, 2008 12:23 EST
The Solution is Probably Right Around the Corner

The Solution is Probably Right Around the Corner

By Joel G. Block (Mentor/Columnist)

Don`t Look Straight Ahead, Look Sideways

I frequently work with scientists, inventors, technologists and people who invent solutions to problems. Unfortunately, it`s very frequent that these inventors will come up with solutions even though they have no idea what the problem is. In other words, they end up creating a solution looking for a problem. Sometimes, the solution that an inventor, scientist or other person invents is for a specific purpose, but it ends up not being optimal for the problem at hand.

A great example of a product that ended up not solving the intended situation is the famous "little blue pill." Pharmaceutical company Pfizer created Viagra, which was originally invented to help people with blood-pressure problems. The pill was designed to assist people who had cardiovascular difficulties, and in the clinical trials, both men and women tested the drug as part of controlled studies. The drug did not produce the great results that the scientists who had invented it had hoped for. So they interviewed the participants in the study in order to document the results of the clinical trials.

Someone on the team of people evaluating the clinical trial results noticed that one of the side effects of the drug was one that was more impactful than the originally intended outcome for the drug. It turns out that some of the males had reported a surprising, pleasant and much needed alternative outcome as a result of taking this test drug. Although their blood pressure may not have decreased very much, incredibly, their libido had somehow increased. This was a benefit that was a complete surprise to everyone.

The scientists were disappointed in the drug, but the marketers who were in the room immediately recognized that although the drug didn`t work as expected, there was going to be a silver lining. They immediately broke into teams and figured out that if they could market the drug as one that dealt with erectile deficiency in a powerful way, then they could probably make more money than they could by competing in the very crowded blood-pressure market that they were originally trying to address.

Sometimes the solution ends up being what was intended, but the problem that the solution addresses ends up being quite different from what was originally planned. Always remember, it`s not where you start, it`s where you finish. And in the case of Viagra, the blue diamond tablet shaped pill made by Pfizer Inc., the outcome ended up being beyond the wildest expectations of the pharmaceutical company that had invented the drug.

So, as you are working hard every day to build your company, or as you`re building your career, don`t look straight ahead at the obvious. Look for the potential side effects, or the potential solutions that are outside of the box. Look to the side, look to the front, look behind you and look in every direction for a possible market or a solution that your investment or your business addresses " because sometimes it`s not right in front of you. The best solution might end up being somewhere off to the side.

About Joel G. Block, President of Growth-Logic, Inc.
Often dubbed a "Growth Architect" by his clients, Joel Block advises companies on explosive growth strategies by driving revenue and sales. Well known in the capital markets, Joel is a successful entrepreneur, speaker and advisor. To bring Joel into your company, please visit or