An emergency room (ER) nurse kept hearing complaints from patients who had been waiting for hours to see a doctor. After reading The 2,000 Percent Solution (Reissue Edition, Authors Choice Press, 2003), she put in measurements to see how long it took various kinds of patients to get the attention they needed. She was shocked to find that those who were too sick or injured to explain their problems sometimes waited for over ten hours ― even if they needed immediate treatment. This nurse shared her concerns with the other ER nurses and physicians. They discussed the choices and decided to train the guards at the door to spot people who couldn’t help themselves and bring a triage nurse immediately to check the patient. Waiting time for these very sick patients dropped to less than ten minutes. Although her colleagues didn’t know it, they had just put in place a 2,000 percent solution.

A 2,000 percent solution is any method of accomplishing what your organization does now in 1/20th the time or less or accomplishing 20 times as much or more, while employing the same or fewer resources. A combination of those attributes can also be a 2,000 percent solution.

That much improvement probably sounds pretty extreme to you. Interestingly, we’ve all seen 2,000 percent solutions. But we don’t usually label them as such. For instance, a slow reader takes a course in better reading methods. Reading speed increases from 100 words to 1,000 words a minute while comprehension doubles. The reading speed increase is a 1,000 percent solution and the doubling of comprehension is a 200 percent solution. When you put the two together, you have a 2,000 percent solution ― a 2,000 percent increase in reading comprehension per unit of time spent in reading.

We were attracted to this subject because both of our families depended on small businesses when we were growing up. 2,000 percent solutions made an enormous difference in these operations and in our lives. We hope this book will do the same for you and your business, whether you own it … or simply work there.

Let’s look at some more examples to help you can grasp what a 2,000 percent solution is. Technology often helps us speed results without increasing resources. For example, you can send material halfway around the world now in an e-mail for a tiny fraction of the cost and time of sending an air courier package. The e-mail is also a 2,000 percent solution compared to the best method commonly available 20 years ago, sending a facsimile.

Thinking more clearly about the implications of what needs to be done can have a similar effect without waiting for technology to advance. For instance, many electronic products are now designed to have many fewer parts than the products they replace. Consequently, repairing products with fewer parts takes much less time and reduces costs. For more expensive products, the parts are often monitored electronically to note when the parts are about to fail. The message that failure is imminent is sent to the repair person before the failure. The part is replaced, and the customer never experiences a problem. Repeat sales and profits improve as a result. For less expensive products, on-line resources allow customers to diagnose their problems, implement their own solutions and receive faster results at a fraction of the cost for providing hands-on repairs.

Sharing information throughout organizations has had similar effects. Many organizations now use business intelligence software that allows everyone to know what performance is in the activities each person influences. As a result, fewer problems occur and the solutions come faster and less expensively.

More recently, organizations have learned to access better ideas inexpensively by involving large numbers of experts through on-line contests. Goldcorp was a pioneer in this effort when it sponsored the Goldcorp Challenge in March 2000. Hundreds of the world’s best geologists looked at Goldcorp’s exploratory drilling results on-line and produced a number of excellent suggestions. By spending a few hundreds of thousands of dollars for a Web site and prizes, Goldcorp located new gold reserves worth hundreds of millions.

Topping that success, Larry Huston, Procter & Gamble’s Vice President of R&D, Innovation and Knowledge, reported in October 2005 that P&G had run over 200 versions of the Goldcorp Challenge since 2000. These contests had yielded innovations with a success rate of over 80 percent, increased R&D productivity by 45 percent and provided 35 percent of all of P&G’s successful innovations in recent years.

Author's Bio: 

Chairman, Mitchell and Company. Co-author of The 2,000 Percent Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution Workbook, The Irresistible Growth Enterprise and The Ultimate Competitive Advantage. A contributor to 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life, Volume 2. To create your own 2,000 percent solutions, follow the directions in the free excerpts of The 2,000 Percent Solution available at