In America, a man noticed a historic Victorian house he’d always admired was about to be knocked down.
He wanted to buy it but the developers wouldn’t sell the plot of land.
The man loved the house so much he decided to buy it and move it to a new location.
So he bought some land and thought he’d put the whole house on a huge lorry and drive it to the new spot (you can do that in America).
But the new spot was on the other side of town, which meant going all the way around the outside of the town.
The house was huge, so that would have meant closing down all the power lines along the route around town.
He asked the man in control of public utilities what this would cost.
The man said as it was a private job the city wouldn’t let the workmen do it during work hours, that meant the men would have to do it at the weekend.
As they were an all-union crew that meant they could only hire out for an 8 hour day, which would cost about $40,000.
The man said he couldn’t afford that so he asked if there was a cheaper way.
He was told the cheapest and shortest way would be straight through the centre of town, but they’d never allow him do that.
Well, the first step in solving a problem is always to ask as many questions as possible before you formulate an answer.
So he went to the town hall and spoke to the person in charge of the planning department.
He asked them what it would cost to shut down the power lines to move a large load through the middle of town.
He was told it would only cost $4,000 but he’d never get permission.
So he went to see someone in the department that gives permissions and approvals.
He asked them, is there anything they’d give permission for, to shut down the power lines running through the centre of town?
They said the only reason would be something like a parade, especially if it was celebrating the town’s heritage.
The man smiled and said: good, that was very fortunate.
Because he said he wanted to have the first LOCAL HISTORIC ARCHITECTURE parade, celebrating the beautiful old buildings the town had, and could he get permission to close down the main street so the parade could come through?
Americans love a parade, so permission was granted and formal warrants issued.
The man had fly-posters printed and put up all over town, telling everyone about the parade and inviting everyone to join in.
On the day, loads of people lined the street with lawn-chairs and beer-coolers.
The locals wanted to be part of the parade so the fire-brigade joined in, local builders joined in, children in historic costumes, the football team, cheerleaders, even police on motorbikes, and pride-of-place was his house on a lorry decked out in American flags, moving slowly along through the town.
His house got a massive cheer, everyone thought it was the best ‘float’ in the whole parade.
The parade went past city hall and on the steps was the man who’d told him he’d never get permission to move his house through the centre of town.
And that’s exactly the way to turn a problem into an opportunity.
Not only did he get his house moved for $4,000 instead of $40,000, but it’s now famous as the most historic house in the region and worth many times what he paid for it.
And everyone loved the parade so much it’s become an annual feature in that town.
Proving that REAL creativity is spotting the opportunity in a problem.