Friday, May 06, 2011

Radio Lab - simple fixes for intractable problems

Very interesting Radio Lab this week. They described four stories that had really challenging problems and the simple (although perhaps not 100% ideal) solutions that were developed for them. It's a great example of what creativity can accomplish.

One was a gay couple who lived in a state that didn't even have civil unions let alone same sex marriage. They wanted to make sure that they could make medical decisions and financial decisions for each other, especially as they aged. So one legally ADOPTED the other one. Not exactly marriage, but if you look at the nuances of the law, it gave them just about the same legal rights (except for social security benefits).

They also talked about a mental care facility that had a problem with residents wandering off. They didn't want to turn the place into a jail by adding security. So instead, they built a fake bus stop in the front of the building. They found most of the future wanderers sitting at the bus stop waiting for a bus. After a few minutes of conversation, they forgot where they thought they were going and came back inside. No security, no force, just a little glass and wood.

The third one I liked was about a guy who had rage issues. Whenever anyone told him to calm down, no matter how they said it/did it, he would just get madder and sometimes assault the poor good Samaritan. So he got a gray parrot and trained it to say "Calm Down, everything will be OK" whenever it sensed him getting mad. He couldn't rage against this little bird, especially one he trained himself. He calmed down, saved himself thousands in therapy, and kept himself out of jail.

Creativity and Innovation - that is what will save the world. Not tax cuts and government regulations.