Hard Challenges Create Cool Solutions

Hard times create opportunities for innovative solutions.  

This pandemic sucks.  Let’s just start there. But it has created an opportunity for disruption and innovation to come to the forefront.

We’ve seen lots of examples of people coming together to light beacons of hope, but last week one of those examples really resonated with me.

COVID-19 shut down Hollywood more than any strike ever has — and as a result, most of the scripted shows had to go on a break.  I’m a huge fan of “The Blacklist” on NBC, and as I sat down to watch the season finale, I was presented with an example of how teams can come together to solve problems in unique ways.  

The show began in its usual manner, but five minutes in, abruptly paused. The actors were all shown at home, with their quarantine cuts and stay-at-home hygienic beards.  They explained that the team found a way to complete the episode, and the season, while at home.  



The rest of the episode was a combination of B-roll footage, actual pro-shot footage and gaming-like animation.  Show creatives pared a 22-episode season down into 19 episodes, which felt at times a little rushed —   but they were able to present an episode that put a cap on the season in a way that was at least tolerable, if not 100% perfect.

This was a great example of how smart people can solve hard problems. Rather than having the show go on hiatus indefinitely with no chance to resolve the dangling threads of the season, creatives solved for the fans, and actors explained in a genuine, authentic manner that the team did the best they could, and they did it together.  

As with all things, that sense of transparency and audience-first approach was an example of how you do things in this new world. In fact, this is how you solve problems in any world. Transparency is always a good thing.  

The remote work landscape is proving that people can collaborate, work together and be productive no matter where they are. Magazines are still getting published.  Businesses are still producing.  Things are really strange right now, and a little bit of normalcy can go a very long way.  Part of that normalcy revolves around good communication, being transparent and doing your best to solve problems.  

These next couple of weeks, many schools are having their graduations.  I have two boys in elementary school, one of whom is graduating to middle school.  We are having a virtual graduation that requires planning and digital tools to create the semblance of a graduation ceremony.  We are doing what we can with the tools afforded to us, and we are excited that it can be great.  Maybe it won’t be as great as it could be with all the families together in person, but it will be great regardless.  

As of late I have been writing about silver linings. The biggest silver lining is that smart people can solve hard problems when they have to.  The world is full of hard problems and at least the “people on the street” are able to solve them, if nobody else will.

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