They did a study where experimenters added an unnecessary brick to a lego house that unbalanced the roof. The participants’ job was was to fix the house.
The solution is simple, just remove the extra brick. But most participants opted for the most difficult solution: Adding an additional brick under every other corner to get the roof to balance.
We’ve been trained to see additive solutions, but we’re not often taught to see where removing is better than adding.
Solutions that involve doing more, adding more, becoming more, are common. We rarely look for solutions that involve doing less, removing more, and being more focused.
I told a friend about this study and he told me the story of the Leaning Tower of Pizza:
The Leaning Tower of Piza
When they first built the Leaning Tower of Piza they built one level that sunk into the ground. They hired another architect to fix it. He added another level with weights on one side to balance out the tower, yet the tower was still unbalanced. They hired another architect, who added another level to balance out the tower, and so on.
This continues until the last architect who told them they should have been removing levels instead of adding them. All he did was put a roof on it.
If I find myself wondering where to put something I try to ask myself:
“If this just disappeared, how would I feel? Is there something else I have that I could use to do the same thing?”
If I don’t really care about it or need it, I put it in a giveaway box. I don’t have to figure out where to put it, how to store it, or how to care of it. It’s going in the giveaway box so it can be donated.
Are there any problems you could solve by subtracting instead of adding?