I dreamed the other night that I was a physicist working on a time travelling machine. While I am fascinated by the concepts of quantum mechanics, time travel and Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, I have to admit that my understanding of the real possibilities in this area stretch no further than popular sci-fi movies and Hawking’s Brief History of Time which I read more than ten years ago.
Yet the realm of dreams is where a woeful lack of experience is hardly a disqualifier. No one ever dreamed about writing resumes. So there I was, in my lab with odd mechanical doo dads that looked something like the inside of the Jawa’s droid transport in Star Wars and a big white board for me to doodle out my calculations and formulas.
As I was toiling away staring at the aforementioned white board, I suddenly came to a major realization–I was working on the wrong problem.
In my dream, most scientists were focused on the main the challenge of time travel–the fact that you have to create a doorway (or a rip) in the space time continuum to travel from one moment to the next. While this is a daunting problem, many scientists had made great strides and the overall field of study seemed close to solving the problem.
This is when I realized that despite this progress, the community was focused on the wrong problem. The doorway was going to be created, but no one was focused on getting through the doorway. It’s not about time travel, it is about teleportation, I realized. Suddenly my entire outlook changed. It was no longer a problem of theory, but a problem was physical mechanics….and something that I could solve.
I woke up before I was able to build my machine for teleportation, but I realized that my dream was a fable for solving problems in business. It is very easy to get laser-focused on problems and solutions, but you need to ask yourself if you are focused on the real problems. This happens all the time, we are focused on budget cuts instead of real efficiency, we are focused on technology integration instead of the issues that real users have in the system.
At the end of the dream, I think I was able to solve the time travel problem by thinking differently–by zigging when everyone else is zagging.