The Answer Is Right Under Your Nose - Ok - Maybe Under Your Drink

All of the first time attendees to the conference were gathered in a hotel meeting room seated at round tables.  Seasoned attendees walked about the room placing two clean sheets of flipchart paper in the center of each table.   Another person followed behind and dumped a pile of cheetos on the paper.  A third person poured a small pile of marshmallows next to the pretzels.  A package of graham crackers followed with a giant dollop of cake frosting on a plate and a bag of giant gummi candy.  (My mind starting reminiscing about Girl Scouts and smores when I saw the marshmallows and graham crackers. Where was the chocolate?  How could they miss a key ingredient?).  The frosting was the only glue for the spaceship we were about to construct from the materials in front of us.  We readjusted our belongings, moving some onto the floor but kept our drinks (water - ok - some were wine and beer) on the table on the paper in front of us.

Several teammates started grabbing graham crackers and the glue (frosting), putting together small boxlike vehicle creations, none of which resembled a spaceship at all.  We finally decided that we needed to draw a conceptual vision of what the spaceship would look like.   It didn't take one creative lady at our table long to suggest we use the paper we were drawing on for our spaceship.  Within minutes a spaceship started to materialize before our eyes resembling a giant version of the paper airplanes we made as kids.  The engineer in me couldn't resist adding pretzels in key positions for structural support.  For the finishing touches, we added the brightly colored junkfood in strategic places for decoration.  Voila!  We had a spaceship. Ok - more like a space shuttle, but it was a flying vehicle.       

So many times when we are working on a problem, we miss the simple solution right in front of our eyes - or right under our drinks in this case.  Sometimes we need to back up and think less but differently and the answer will appear - or at least some new options.  

Please share in the comments your stories of "out of the box" or "under the junkfood" thinking that helped you solve a problem.