In the Sixties, when Boeing produced the first Jumbo jets, the Federal Aviation Authority refused to grant a licence to carry passengers. Why? Because they required to know the weight of the plane. Boeing had spent a lot of time, money and energy trying to work out a way to weigh this unusually large aircraft, but without success.
As it happened, a visiting salesman heard about the problem, and said that he thought he could help. At first, he was not taken seriously. However, he insisted, so the engineers and executives thought they could lose nothing by letting him try. So, they asked him if he needed anything. He said: “Just a piece of strong, a measuring tape, and a tyre pressure gauge.” Needless, to say, there were a lot of raised eyebrows.
The salesman walked up to one of the planes sitting on the tarmac and did a few very simple things. First, he wound the string tightly around the base of a tyre, where it touched the ground. He then measured that length. He did this with several tyres, just to get an average. He then took the pressure of each of those tyres, again just to get an average. Next, he counted the total number of tyres. Finally, he did a quick calculation on a piece of paper and turned to Boeing’s and announced the weight of the plane. There were more than a few red faces, but Boeing got its licence, and the salesman got his contract!
This story is just one of countless examples of intelligent simplicity – where you do something that looks too simple, yet is very intelligent. In complete contrast to the very expensive, complicated, time-consuming methods that Boeing had tried, the salesman’s method cost nothing, took almost no time, and was the opposite of complicated. Yet it was far more intelligent, because it worked!