55 Minutes
55 Minutes: Your first and foremost tool in your problem-solving toolkit


We chase solutions—and that’s the problem. In most things, as in medicine, to prescribe before diagnosis is malpractice. Yet, we’re uncomfortable getting close enough and spending sufficient time with problems to fully understand, communicate and frame them as opportunities for creative solutions.

Einstein said (perhaps apocryphally) given an hour to solve a problem, he'd spend 55 minutes defining it properly. His inspiration guides 55 Minutes.

In summary, what is your “Made on Coboat” project idea (max. 3 sentences)?

55 Minutes will be a suite of products to aid problem definition.

These will include: 1) a training program to help coaches, consultants, counselors, mentors and other advisers in their client work 2) a web or mobile app for individual lay users 3) a book--and perhaps another medium, like video case studies.

Along with “How-to” tools, a case needs to be made for “WHY”, so I will blog, write articles and contact influencers from Coboat along the way to evangelize this need.

How much of your project can you realistically achieve in 100 days if you will get the chance to stay on the Coboat?

Along with the blog posts, articles, interviews, etc. I reckon early versions of two or maybe three products, e.g. an alpha or early Beta of an app, a rough draft of a book-length manuscript.

Will you complete this project on your own, or will you be working with a together with a team?

Both on my own & with a diverse network. Reaching out to them from the ocean (I’ll send my GPS coordinates) will get their attention! Same for the media.

And my shipmates: helping them better define the problem they are solving makes great case studies. Lending me their skillsets, say videography, coding, or UX design, would help determine which products I prioritize.

I practice what I preach: define the problem first is part of do what you can with what you’ve got—or with whom you’ve got!

Why should your project be chosen?

You, Coboat & Jovoto, whether you are working with entrepreneurs and startups or big multinationals, are in the bringing-ideas-to-market space.

You have a responsibility to avoid encouraging products that claim to be panaceas or ones with problem definitions that are really disguise solutions.

55 Minutes, in the tradition of Design Thinking and Lean StartUp methodology, can help change solution chasing.

What does this project mean to you?

This is an opportunity to turn one of the principles of Design Thinking into a tool that is useful, usable and used. It could help a wide variety of professionals: advisers, designers, engineers, entrepreneurs to serve their clients and constituencies better. Plus help individuals to better understand themselves and their marketplace or other situation.

Why do you want to do this project?

I’ve launched startups on 3 continents; here’s an chance to try BETWEEN continents!

The paradox intrigues me: to both work in one place (on a boat—and I’m an avid sailor) while constantly moving. Wanderers produce wisdom. Nomadic peoples produced all major monotheistic faiths. The seafaring Greeks brought us democracy, geometry, philosophy…

I work well by the water. Here, I am (by the flagpole, on my laptop) in my favorite spot, captured by the Google Maps car: https://goo.gl/maps/ugmA4

Have you used any third-party material? Even if you've modified it, please ensure you source the original here. See FAQ for details.

Only the Einstein graphic here: ;http://www.azquotes.com/quote/360150. I found out about Coboat only a week ago, and this contest since then, so I focused my limited time on explanations, rather than creating original graphics.

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your professional background. How do you fit into a team? What have you done before within the field of your idea?

I studied history and an MBA. I’ve worked with teams of artists and engineers, PhDs and the illiterate, on Wall Street and in non-profits, on 4 continents—& coworked on 3.

From advising applicants to MBA programs and "wantreprenuers", I saw people chased degrees and ideas before defining what their career lacked. Working on a startup apply Design Thinking to those making scary professional changes to their professional lives, I also blog on that topic: bielski.tumblr.com & @stefanbielski