Charles Kettering, inventor, head of GM research, and social philosopher, famously said “A problem well-stated is a problem half-solved.” He’s right…mostly, because well-stated problems propose a goal, a desired outcome. When creative thinkers have a goal, the world opens up to innovation. Which is why Boring inspires me so…
Specifically, the Boring Company–Elon Musk’s initiative to solve LA’s traffic woes by reimagining urban planning in three dimensions, beginning four stories underground.
The Boring Company is less than half a year old. The way it will fuse private sector initiative with public infrastructure to dig tunnels under Los Angeles is not entirely clear. And the earth-moving equipment required to actually dig massive, multi-level tunnels doesn’t even exist yet.
But the need does. And Musk’s goal is clear: cut the hour-long commute from Westwood to LAX down to six minutes. Sending individual cars on sleds that reach speeds of 130 mph with computer controlled traffic loads would do that.
This audacious solution didn’t come from focusing on the problem. That produces more expected, traffic-centric solutions like double decker highways and straddling buses. Focusing on goals opens new possibilities for innovative thinking.
Admittedly, this is far from a done deal. For his solution to work, Musk will need to apply his 10x improvement standard to the cost of current state-of-the-art tunneling methods, which run about $1 billion per mile for subway extensions. But given the vast, untapped space underground, the need for new transportation solutions, and the promise of his Hyperloop One technology, developing this technology could represent a quantum leap for commuters.
Elon Musk possesses one of the most creative minds in business today. His goal solving perspective enables him to propose radical new solutions to age old problems. Breaking free from conventional problem-solving is an extraordinarily rare ability, but these are the solutions that fire imaginations and stir souls. And yes, that matters.
As Elon said himself at the recent TED conference, “It’s important to have a future that is inspiring.”