Creativity: Can You Use What You Already Have?

By Shlomo Maital  

One of the most powerful tools for practical pragmatic feet-on-the-ground creativity is – to use what exists, to solve unmet needs and unsolved problems.   Joe Dickinson did this.

   The problem:   Lonely isolated older people, over 60 – soon there will be 2 billion of them in the world.

   The challenge:   Find a way to keep in close touch with them daily.

     The breakthrough question: Who sees people every day, or nearly every day, on a regular basis?   Answer? The postman.

       Joe Dickinson, a postal worker in Jersey, a lovely vacation island off the cost of France, had this simple powerful idea.   Use postal delivery people to check on elderly people. Call it: Call and Check.   See if they are OK. See if they need anything or need medical help. Here is a short description:

Call & Check provides a regular visit for people – daily, weekly or as agreed. Our staff will have brief conversation with the customer to ascertain how they are and if they need anything. Working with our customers’ designated contacts, we are then able to relay important messages or requests back to the relevant authority for action. The postal worker is in no way providing medical care or assistance to the customer, we are simply a regular, friendly face that frequently calls and checks, and can raise concerns with relevant third parties where necessary.

        Call and Check has already saved elderly lives.

           Innovator:   Can you use this approach? Can you define a social problem, and then solve it using what exists already?     Example:   India’s Lifeline Express – a medical train that uses India’s extensive system of rails to reach outlying villages and bring medical care to those who have no access to it.