Creative Problem Solving 101

We think we invented creative problem solving. Listen to this. Four thousand years ago Princess Dido of Phoenicia got bounced off her throne by her rotten brother.

According to legend she sailed to Africa to try and build another palace. But the local king would only sell her the amount of land that an ox hide would cover.

This is an architect’s nightmare, a palace thirty stories high and one ox hide wide. A grand banquet room that seats 400– two at a time.

But Princes Dido is a sharp cookie, and a natural born real estate developer. She signs the contract and thinks, “There is more than one way to skin an ox.” And she does.

Sharp mind, also sharp knife. She slices the hide into very narrow strips and lays them end to end in a circle. Now she owns the outside of a piece of property about seven tenths of a mile in area. Nobody can cross her property line, so she can do what she wants inside. It’s enough for a modest palace or should she call it her “Ox Hide Out” (sorry, couldn’t resist.) There is even space for her “Ox Skin Acre” condominium development.

Clever huh? Imagine what she could have done with today’s technology. Get the gismo that prepares specimens for microscope slides and slice her ox hide one molecule thick. She could have circled the whole Mediterranean Ocean including her ugly brother and starved him out.

She could have cloned the ox a few thousand times, proved with the DNA it was the same hide, and ruled the world.

The moral of the story is, of course, when you need a creative solution to your problem, think outside the ox.