Confession: I get my news from Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and NPR. I need most of it to be encapsulated in humor, like children need their vitamins in the shape of cartoon characters or cute creatures. But with Stewart and Colbert on vacation this week, and being in the car a lot these past few days, I’ve found myself inundated with depressing local, national, and international news.
Luckily, my local NPR station, KPCC, gave me a ray of hope to hang onto this week in the form of a Drucker Business Forum event entitled “Strategic Design Thinking” with Ravi Sawhney, author of Predictable Magic.
I will tell you right now that I have no idea why I put this on my calendar to attend when I found out about it. I had an inkling of what I might get out of it in terms of speaking to my clients. I did get that. But I got so much more. I got me a big dose o’ hope.
Sawhney is the man behind the RKS guitar that graced the cover of Business Week in 2005, the KOR water bottle, among probably hundreds of genius creations and devices. He was recently tasked by a client to come up with a clothes washing solution that could take minimal water. He came up with the “Laundry Pod” which will saves billions of gallons of water and help millions of people. He designed a machine that will give doctors a full DNA report for you in two hours for about $1000.
For decades, this man has been leading teams of people toward inventions that improve people’s lives. Most designs and inventions were for clients, but others were born of pure inspiration. His company developed the RKS guitar on a whim. Sawhney came to his team frustrated that he couldn’t find a really beautiful guitar stand for himself. He suggested they reinvent the guitar stand. Someone on his team replied, “Why not reinvent the guitar?” Why not? They set aside a few months for the project. It took four years, but it transformed the idea of what a guitar can be, and how it can sound.
When Sawhney speaks of his work, he smiles. He genuinely loves solving problems like how people can wash clothes in drought-stricken countries. He was moved by his clients who wanted to get BPH out of our water bottles, to create with sustainable materials, and develop a beautiful water vessel that could be taken on a hike, but look lovely if set on a table at a restaurant.
Simply put, Sawhney likes to think outside the box, and inspire people to jump out of theirs. By the end of his talk, I thought, “This guy could end world hunger. This guy could end poverty.” I have two friends in Morocco slaving day and night to help people get what they need to get out of slums. The goal, of course, is to get rid of them entirely. All these problems seem so profoundly enormous, unless you are in the room with Ravi Sawhney and you can hang a hat of hope on him looking at the problem and coming up with a path toward a solution that no one has yet to take.
As Einstein said, “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” Ravi Sawhney seems to be in the business of raising consciousness, lifting far above the problem, shedding bright light on all the shadows, and creating a most lovely, heart-warming solution that ends up making everyone feel better about themselves and their environment.
I am excited to hear what Sawhney does next to benefit our planet. I hope he keeps rising to the occasion, and remains a bright beacon of hope. I think we can probably count on it. As the title of his book portends, it’s the Predictable Magic of being Ravi Sawhney.