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Finding a Problem for a Solution
(A fictional business meeting)

Written May 22, 2024


Ladies and gentlemen, there's big money to be made in nutritional products.  For example, a month's supply of this digestive supplement sells for $59.  That's two dollars per pill!

As our company's troubleshooter, I'm often asked to find a solution to a problem.  Last week I was presented with a different challenge.  We've found a solution; now we need to find a problem for it to solve.

What's the solution?  It's this health supplement from the exotic Southeast Asian nation of Cambodia.  Don't worry about the label; it's in their Khmer language.  Using our alphabet, the name spells tuk.

We have been offered the opportunity to import tuk for the very low cost of three cents per capsule.  This bottle contains 60 capsules, a two-month supply, so it will cost us $1.80.  With the proper marketing, we should easily be able to mark the price up 4000% and sell the pills for $72 a bottle.

Of course, on the back of the label we would need to include a disclaimer in fine print.  Cambodian scientists have tested the capsules and found that ingesting them has no measurable effect of any kind, good or bad.

But the front of the label could feature colorful Asian flowers to imply that tuk will bring happiness.


So we have our solution.  What problem could it solve?

I propose that we claim that tuk is a traditional remedy for the “blahs.”  That's a common term for a state of mild depression:  weariness, boredom, and a lack of interest.

   I propose that we recruit 50 fairly attractive and well-spoken people who admit to suffering temporarily from the blahs.  We give each of them a bottle of tuk and persuade them to take one capsule a day. 

After two months, we again ask them how they're feeling.  By the law of averages, at least a few should have gotten over the blahs.

   They'll happily give us testimonials.  Ever since they started taking tuk every day, their mood has gone up dramatically and they're now enjoying life!

This anecdotal “evidence” can be featured in TV commercials that will convince plenty of people to go out and buy some tuk.  Some of them will notice an increase in happiness.  Out of ignorance or naïveté, they'll attribute this good fortune to the pills, so they'll keep purchasing our very profitable product for years and recommend it to their friends.

And what is the active ingredient in the capsules?  If you were familiar with the Khmer language, you would know that tuk means water.



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