Alligators & Kittens

A sad woman in Louisiana loves kittens, as their little meows fill her with joy. So, she adopts a dozen kittens and brings them to her house in the bayou, which is crawling with alligators. These slimy reptiles make her sad and stressed, so the kittens are a welcome relief. But after a few days, […]

Inversion is Not

Inversion is not thinking forward. It’s thinking backward. Inversion is not pursuing positive outcomes. It’s avoiding negative inputs. Inversion is not converging. It’s diverging. Inversion is an approach to solving problems by flipping the direction. Let’s say a company wants to increase employee output. Their first approach is to mandate office attendance to better monitor labor. An […]

Shaving Yaks

A man wants to buy bananas, but his car has a flat. He needs his air pump but remembers he lent it to his neighbor. He can’t ask his neighbor for it because he hasn’t returned his neighbor’s jacket. He can’t return the jacket because he ripped it last week. He can’t fix the jacket […]

Four-Blade Razor

“Razors” are critical thinking tools designed to “shave away” complexity, and some are especially useful. Stay sharp with Turtle’s new four-blade razor! Occam’s Razor: The simplest explanation is often the best. Hanlon’s Razor: Never attribute to malice what can be attributed to laziness. Hitchen’s Razor: If asserted without evidence, it can be dismissed without evidence. […]

Hairy Arms

Asha is a young marketer pushing the boundaries for extraterrestrial fashion. Little green people have immigrated to Earth, but humans struggle to accept them. To build empathy, Asha wants to promote the green people in her company’s upcoming fall collection. However, her boss is prejudiced and always gives feedback before launching a campaign. So, Asha […]

Six Blind Folks

Six blind folks bump into a mysterious thing. Out of curiosity, they grope it. Person 1 feels its trunk: “It’s soft and long. It’s a snake!” Person 2 feels its ear: “Feels flat and floppy to me. It’s a hand fan.” Person 3 feels its leg: “Nah, it’s tall, round, and rough. It’s a tree […]

Beware the Bike Shed

Engineers gather to discuss two designs: One for a nuclear reactor and one for a bike shed. The reactor discussion is smooth and short, as people nod in agreement. But the bike shed discussion lasts for hours as engineers sketch layouts, discuss paint colors, and think critically about building materials. Bike-shedding (a.k.a. The Law of […]

Two Lists

The Two Lists acknowledge that everything has a cost. Even junk like a free t-shirt takes up real estate in your drawer, saps mental energy as you actively decide whether to wear it each day, incites guilt as you throw it out, or wastes time as you bring it to Goodwill. It’s an easy concept to overlook, but not creating a List B could come at the cost of List A.

Seven Plus or Minus Two

At work, I inherited this tool to help people use a poorly designed product. While the long-term solution was to address core issues in the product, this supporting tool had low-hanging fruit, such as glaring usability holes. Rather than preach about these gaps, I leveraged the ever-relevant heuristic from writing: Show, don’t tell.