Sunday, January 1, 2012

The dangers of sitting down to work.

         Both the New York Times and Yahoo reported the news. Sitting for long periods is bad for your health. It slows the metabolizing of calories and increases the risk of some cancers, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

         Bad news for psychotherapists, good news for jackhammer operators. A Minnesota staffing firm now has treadmills instead of chairs in its conference room.

         Maybe before sitting down to work we should spend more time sitting down to think. We don't have to be in front of our computers or at our desks when we're solving problems. We can spread out on a sofa. Maybe we'd even get better results.

         Dale Carnegie, the "How to Win Friends and Influence People" guy, once told the story of Leon. Leon was tired of boring and frustrating meetings where everyone recited problems. He enforced a new rule: everyone bringing a problem to him had to submit a memo answering these four questions:

         1. What's the problem?

         2. What's the cause of the problem?

         3. What are all the possible solutions to the problem?

         4. Which solution do you suggest?

         Leon reported that suddenly, he didn't get problems any more. People used his questions to solve the problem themselves.

         Maybe we in advertising and marketing should tape those four questions to our computers. Or our TV sets or our dashboards. You have to fully understand a problem before you can hope to solve it. Half-baked solutions can create more problems than the original one.

        When Coca-Cola invented New Coke to please Pepsi drinkers, they forgot to test it on Coke drinkers before they removed the original from store shelves. That's why New Coke isn't around much any more.

       When Alka-Seltzer named its cold medicine Alka-Seltzer Plus, it suddenly made the original into Alka-Seltzer Minus, even though it was for headaches and upset stomaches.

      And when Wal-Mart decided to upgrade its fashions without thinking about its present customers, who were perfectly happy with the old, inexpensive line, their sales took a nosedive.

        The moral: There's no problem so bad as the problem a wrong-minded solution can create.

        Think of that while you're watching the football games. Happy New Year!

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