The Magic of Numbers

The Magic of Numbers by Walter McIntyre

Contrary to how you may have learned math, the story of numbers is one of magic. Numbers fill our lives in ways we never think of. From IP addresses to the television channel you watch, numbers allow us to differentiate between categories and events.

To see the real magic behind our numbers, try this experiment. Solve this equation (4+15)/(29*16). Now solve this equation without converting it to our modern numbering system, (IV+XIV)/(XXIX*XVI). The Roman numerals were for documentation and it was not possible to perform operations with them. The Romans used Arabic numbers, similar to what we use today for commerce, where operations were needed. Aren’t you glad you were taught math in our modern numbering system rather that Roman numerals? Imagine how much harder long division would have been.

Central Tendency

Mean Median and Mode in Central Tendency by Walter McIntyre

Before discussing measures of central tendency, a word of caution is necessary. Customers do not feel averages. They feel their specific experience. As a result, while central tendency is an important descriptive statistic, it is often misused. For example, a customer is told that the average delivery time is noon, but his actual delivery time turns out to be 3:00 PM. The customer, in this case, does not experience the average and may feel that he has been lied to.

Pursue Your Dreams

My mentor told me that I should pursue my dreams.  Find the people who are the best in class in the talents I need, and learn from them by adding value to their dreams. By making a positive exchange in value with people, everyone is a winner.  Sounds like something Zig Zigler would have said.

He also told me to avoid those who would gold brick off of my talents and success. People who would create a negative exchange of value with me. There is no upside to this scenario.  Helping people is great.  Being a doormat is not.

Project Management

A current project I am working on involves 4 companies. The principle, a web services company, an electronic hardware and firmware company, and a contract manufacturer. I am using a traditional Gantt tool, along with Excel, to manage the overall project. We rely on each of the other companies to have their own internal project management tools. The contract manufacturer uses a traditional Gantt tool to manage their multiple projects both corporately and individually. The hardware/firmware company also uses a traditional Gantt tool. The web services company is using their own in house project tracking strategy. None of the companies involved use Agile tools.

Forward Thinking

It is not enough to just innovate around a tried and true point of reference.  To survive and thrive you must be willing create a “new” tried and true point of reference, continuously, and in real time with the market.  I can remember when my team first introduced the asTech technology to the collision repair industry.  We were traveling to conferences doing demos for so called experts.  It was common to hear, “I don’t believe them.  It’s just smoke and mirrors”.   Most of those folks are not considered experts anymore because we moved the needle on what was possible.

Building Great Teams

I did some research on team building recently.  What I found were lists of qualities that define effective teams.  The problem is that these lists are typically filled with descriptions of characteristics that are superficial.  I can say, or do, whatever is necessary, when it is necessary, so that I look like a great teammate on a great team.

I believe that building a great team requires great teammates. It is much more personal than a list of qualities. You do not want to build a house on a foundation of sand and you do not want to build a team on a foundation of individuals whose sole focus is on their own personal value propositions.

Building New Skills

Much of our frustration with personal development comes from our failure to establish short term goals.  This frustration springs from a failure to understand that the learning and development of skills is typically an evolutionary process.  Your brain learns by building neural connections over time, by way of practice and integration into your current understandings and skills.

Maybe you want to learn to play a musical instrument. The first day you pick up the instrument, you will not play it like a virtuoso.  You correct for this by expecting a certain level of accomplishment for each practice.  Meeting this goal gives you a positive view of your efforts.  You repeat this cycle over and over again, like climbing a ladder.

Innovation and Creativity in Motion

Many of the activities and strategies we use to innovate and manage are actually road blocks to creativity and innovation. Certainly, the enforcement of a time line and being cost conscience, are important, but only in respect to their appropriate place in the life cycle of a product or service.  When applied to the creative and innovative phases in this life cycle, they are disruptive and cause sub-optimization.

Innovation is a creative process that requires open-mindedness and a safe environment.  Creativity and innovation are processes that rely upon failure and the ability to learn from failure. You cannot create or innovate where failure is unacceptable or penalized.

The Reverse of Business Intelligence

  • We don’t know what we don’t know.
  • We can’t do what we don’t know.
  • We won’t know until we measure.
  • We don’t measure what we don’t value.
  • What we don’t measure we don’t do.
  • We don’t value what we don’t do.
  • Therefore, we will continue to not know what we don’t know.