Today I was walking through the hallway and overheard what I imagine is a very typical conversation in companies throughout the world - "The customer wants this done one way and we do it another way. We can't do what they want." So I popped in the office and drew my favorite management picture (see below).
I've given this example to lots of people throughout my career and assumed that the individual would have seen it by now. Much to my delight he had not, so we proceeded to my normal script:
"We can't do this specific thing the customer wants", he said.
So I drew a picture on the white board of one big circle, and one little circle, with two arrows going back and forth.
I then asked him "What's this?"
He thought about it for a second and gave up.
I said "The big one is the Earth, the little one is the Moon. These two arrows represent that we have figured out a way to get people back and forth which seems like a pretty hard problem. I'm guessing we should be able to figure out this problem out as well."
I know it's a silly example, but it's true. Problems don't seem so hard if you assume most can be solved. The old "Can Do" attitude is still relevant in 2011.
We then talked through the specific issue, and sure enough there was a solution.