MacGyver

I grew up in the late Seventies and early Eighties, neck deep in that gorgeous, textured, naive culture. I played with legos and G.I. Joe toys. I collected comic books and baseball cards. And once week I say down in front of my parent’s television and watched with barely containable excitement as my favorite TV show in the universe started up. MacGyver. Hell yeah.

This guy could do anything. International spy. Rescue operations. Humanitarian work. Hockey. In one episode he might be flying a fighter jet over Afghanistan, and the next week would show him helping homeless girl get back into school. It was always fun to watch and never ceased to be my creative juices flowing. And at the center of it all was that pocket knife.

MacGyver carried a Swiss Army knife with him everywhere he went. That little red tool had everything he needed to get the job done. And as a major fan, I of course had my own Swiss Army knife in my pocket. I wasn’t breaking out of reactor containment cores or building crossbows with coat hangers, but I was prepared for it nonetheless.

Fast forward to yesterday, when a friend of mine pulled me aside. He runs a wildly successful business, and like so many of us who work out tails off, he encounters friction constantly. It’s a lot of the typical stuff you’d recognize: failure to capture ideas, problems moving information from place to place, trouble communicating the concepts he dreams up, etc. We all experience the same kinds of friction daily.

He had pulled me aside to give me something. But as he thought about where he had put it, he realized that it was at home, in his wife’s car. He sighed and then told me he would have to scan it into his computer when he got home and then send it over. I thought it was a photo for some new design project, but he shook his head.

“It’s a sketch. Of a new PowerPoint slide layout I want to try,” he said.

My mind did some fast math at that point: no need for high quality resolution + not a design asset + just a sketch = remove the friction!

“Just take a photo of it with your iPhone when you get home and text it to me,” I told him.

The relief that washed over his face was amazing. He was anticipating, at the end of a hectic and stressful day, that he would need to find the time and energy to dig out the scanner, get it working, and manage to get a scan of that sketch over to me (I realize that for some of you this sounds like a simple task and not in need of a better solution, but remember just how unfriendly a lot of technology is to the majority of people these days). But I had offered him a simple, frictionless solution and that made all the difference in the world.

There’s only one MacGyver, but all of use have the tools with us to remove friction in those moments of frustration. Don’t look at your phone as a phone. Look at it as a Swiss Army knife, ready to solve a multitude of problems when the need arises.

Stay hopeful. Be creative. And get rid of that friction.