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There are several philosophies about the creation of wealth that state:

find and follow your passion first and the money will follow in abundance.

“If we realize change is more important than money, then money will come” Boyan Slat

This was very prominent to me when I watched a recent TEDx Delft talk of 19-year-old inventor Boyan Slat (The Ocean Cleanup Foundation) presenting his moving and impactful talk about how he found a way to clean up, in under 5 years, the world’s oceans of the 7.5 million tons of plastic waste in which has accumulated in five large ocean trash vortices.

Read more here and watch the TEDx video.

What struck me most about his story was the sequence of steps that he took: He identified an unmet, very real, relevant challenge; He saw his own passion within the challenge; He turned concerns into challenges, uncovering a solution for each concern, laying the groundwork for a powerful action plan; That action plan will positively impact his own life and that of many species of beings on this planet all while paving a way to a cleaner smarter environment. To top it off, he is able to tell his powerful story to enroll others into his vision within 10 minutes.

In Synecticsworld’s 5 decades of working with global giants and their leaders, we have identified several important steps in creating change to solve important challenges.  Boyan Slat and his quest to clean our oceans is a great example of these steps in action:

1. Follow your passion

First and foremost, what is your passion?  What are you most excited about doing, being, or solving?  This is an important first step in the journey to create change.  By linking your challenge to your passion, you will cement your commitment, enthusiasm and energy to the creative problem solving process.

For Boyan, his passion and love is diving, being underwater, seeing all aquatic life and the preservation of that life.

2. Identify an unmet need

Identifying an unmet need is a powerful place to develop breakthrough innovations i.e. something that has not yet been created and that breaks free from over-saturated markets.

Boyan saw an unmet need – how to clean the existing trash in the oceans – rather than the current strategy of focusing on educating people on producing and wasting less trash in their day-to-day lives.

3. Set a Big Hairy Audacious Goal

Once you have found your  passion and the unmet-need that you are going to commit your energy and resources to, ask yourself, for what purpose do I want to do this?

Chunk up to what I like to call the BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) i.e. that high-in-the-sky goal that you will actively work towards for years to come.

In the case of Boyan, the data that said it would take 79,000 years cleanup the oceans, so he created his BHAG to reduced the 79,000 years to under 5 years and to make it profitable.  Now, that is a big goal to get behind!

4. Immerse into the challenge and ask questions

Immerse yourself in the challenge and explore with an open-mind your unanswered questions, the things you wish you knew.

Boyan was not convinced by the established scientists, governments and research institutions whose strong data and evidence supported their findings regarding the Ocean Trash Vortex’s.  He had unanswered questions and sought out answers.  He went to see what was really happening himself.  He asked scientists and experts his own questions.  He created his own experiments and research and made his own observations.  He immersed and challenged current thinking with new open questions to find what he needed to solve his challenge.

5. Turn concerns into challenges to overcome

With every obstacle, aim to not let it stop you, instead keep going until the solution shows itself.  The power of moving forward is to look at everything that would normally stand in your way, and to face them head on, actively seeking how to solve them.  Turn your concerns into challenges you want to find the answers to.

Boyan reframed the challenges he faced into opportunities that could work for him, and in doing so found a solution.  Instead of trawling through the ocean with effort, resources and manpower, he found a way to make the ocean work for him, he said “Let’s use our enemy to our advantage.”   He stood still and let the ocean do what it does best.  An obvious possibility in hindsight.  

6. Think differently and explore the metaphor

Actively seek a way to see your challenge in a different way.  A metaphor is one way to expand your thinking around a challenge to create new ideas, solutions and approaches to your challenge and BHAG.

Boyan reversed his thinking, looking for a path with little resistance, and he looked to his passion, the aquatic life, for inspiration.  His final invention took on the shape and principals of a manta ray.  Exploring metaphors and analogies helped Boyan discover attributes he could use to solve his challenge.

7. Find the Big Benefit

Through the various research and question-asking you will have done in searching for an answer to your challenge, you will have uncovered several benefits as to why solving this will be of benefit to all.  This is is an important component of the total picture – making sure the reason why you are creating what you are is to make it responsible, ecological and have a positive impact on all involved.  The big benefit is what enrolls others.

Boyan’s big benefits are multiple and inclusive – Profitability, clean oceans, clean food chain, reduction of PCBs, and a new supply of plastics to name a few.

8. Believe and the abundance will follow

You have to believe in your idea before anyone else does and you must believe you can create it and solve it and that it will happen.  When you do this, the solutions, support and enrollment will follow to help you make it a reality.

Boyan, through his belief and pursuit in making a cleaner ocean, he not only found a strong solution, he also uncovered that the total profitability of the operation will be more than the setup up cost, meaning everyone wins.

If you want to help Boyan in his Big Hairy Audacious Oceanic Goal CLICK HERE

What do you want to create and change.  Share your dreams we are all here to help you find the answers and create change.


2 Comments

  1. Excellent blog Kyle.

    I loved:

    * The Title – it’s proactive, forward thinking and punchy. Numbers also work, and for some reason ‘8’ seems to be less used.
    * The real life example of Boyan Slat – I haven’t googled him yet, but he sounds and feels inspirational.
    * The Layout – Even after two pints of Guinness, I can still recall seven of the eight steps. That says something about your ability to get a message assimilated. I believe this has been achieved by your three part structure of headline; strategy; and evidence from Boyan
    * The Free Flier of the 8 Steps – I’ve just downloaded it and plan on sharing it with
    a group of small business owners tomorrow.
    * It’s quintessential Synectics – an ongoing process of problem solving in an encouraging environment.

    You made me proud to say I was part of your wonderful organisation some years ago.

    Dea ghuí,

    Padraic

    • Kyle Hermans

      Thank you Padraic
      I appreciate your kind feedback. Thank you for laying such strong and progressive groundwork in our organization for us to continue to build upon, explore from and help our global clients solve their biggest challenges from. Best. Kyle.

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