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The Polaroid Story: How the Right Question Changed Everything

Ever wondered where the landmark invention of the polaroid came from? Read on to find out.
by Johanne Schwensen | Feb 26 2015


In 1944, a 3-year-old girl asked a question that would inspire a landmark innovation.

After her father took a picture of her, the little girl asked: “Why can’t I see the photo right now?” Her dad responded with the truth: that the film had to be developed in a darkroom first before it became a real photo. To the young girl who understood little about the mechanics of the process, the answer meant nothing.

But it meant something to her father, Edwin Land, who set out to answer his daughter in a different way. Her question had inspired him, and there was no turning back until he found a solution: the instant camera – or, rather, the company that created it. Land would go on to co-found The Polaroid Corporation, making sure that anyone in the world could experience the joy of looking at a photo without waiting days for it to develop.

All important inventions usually spring from critiquing the status quo and examining what’s missing in our lives – and most of the time, the process starts with a question. In Great Work, David Sturt notes that the best minds see problems as opportunities, just as Land did. He took the root of his daughter’s dissatisfaction and spun it into a positive for the world.

Let’s say you have a winning question in front of you. Here are three things to remember that will help you seize opportunities for growth and innovation.

Tackle the problem.

If you encounter a problem, meet it head-on and don’t run away. After all, every problem is an opportunity for growth and change. Edwin Land wasn’t satisfied with the answer he gave to his daughter’s question, so he made it his mission to improve it.

Incorporate your experiences and strengths into the solution.

Land had previously helped create a polarizing filter for sunglasses, and that experience proved invaluable for inventing the Polaroid Camera.

Think outside the box.

The sky used to be the limit, but not anymore. Imagine what people would love to see happen if everything were possible!

Learn more about how to make an impact on the world in David Sturt’s Great Work. You can also read the (13 minute!) book insight summary in blinks.

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