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Silver Lining

How looking on the bright side can help you run your business

By Mark Henricks

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Why not have telephone solicitors pay us to listen? BarryNalebuff and Ian Ayres wonder about this and other potentialinnovations in Why Not? How to Use Everyday Ingenuity to SolveProblems Big and Small (Harvard Business School Press,$27.50). If you like that idea, listen to Yale professors Nalebuff(economics) and Ayres (law) on the value of intelligentoptimism-seeing the world not as it is but as it could be, and thenchanneling that perspective into workable business initiatives.That's how they came up with the pay-to-listen concept, whichthey think might appeal to oft-ignored telemarketers as well asoft-interrupted consumers.

You can be inventive, they say, by employing four questions: 1)What would King Croesus do? In other words, how would you handle aproblem if you had unlimited resources? 2) Why don't you feelmy pain? Search your company for incentives that unintentionallyencourage people to make bad decisions-and develop better ones. 3)Where else would it work? This suggests transplanting successfulideas from one sphere to another. 4) Would flipping it around work?Try things the other way around. One literal example: flat-toppedbottles that use gravity to make ketchup easier to pour.

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