Problems are never completely solved

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Last night I went out to a Thai restaurant with some friends.  When the bill came, I saw something that I've never seen before.  At the bottom of the bill, there was a "Tip Guide" showing what 15%, 18%, and 20% tips would come out to.  Maybe I'm behind the curve and this is commonplace now, but I was stunned.  Restaurant bills have followed the same format for decades, and finally someone took the time to reconsider what information should be on these bills

There are a lot of assumptions we make about how the world works, and these assumptions are partially responsible for the mediocrity we see in too many products these days.  A long time ago, someone came up with the first version of the restaurant bill that we're all used to.  Since then, very little thought has been put into the format or content of these bills.  We consider these bills to be a "solved" problem and we move on.

If you think that a problem is solved, that means that there can't be any room for improvement. That's a horrible attitude to have.  In many areas, we realize that we want improvement (faster computers, more fuel efficient cars, cheaper plane tickets) but in others we just accept uninspired standards (how email works, online banking, your kitchen sink, and restaurant bills).

As consumers, we have a responsibility to demand improvement in all areas.  Even "solved" problems need to be examined periodically to make sure that there aren't new, better options available because of advances in technology.  With the case of the restaurant bill, technology wasn't even involved.  It just took someone with a little bit of creativity.

If you have a job, even if you don't directly create a product, I encourage you to constantly consider how you can improve yourself and your work.  If something as simple and standardized as a restaurant bill can get better, that means that whatever you're working on can be improved too.

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