In Zen Buddhism they have a concept called “Shoshin (初心)” meaning “a beginner’s mind”. Sometimes it is also referred to as “a Child’s mind”. It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject.
Due to our experience, we often already have certain prejudgements about the scenarios we are in. These limit our vision, narrowing our view on the matter at hand. Going one step back, starting from a blank slate & posing question is the way to think as a “beginner”. The view of a beginner will make us look at a situation from another viewpoint, thus providing us with additional information to which we may have been blinded.
Ever hear of “Cargo Cult“?
“A cargo cult is a religious practice that has appeared in many traditional pre-industrial tribal societies in the wake of interaction with technologically advanced cultures. The cults focus on obtaining the material wealth (the “cargo”) of the advanced culture through magic and religious rituals and practices. Cult members believe that the wealth was intended for them by their deities and ancestors. Cargo cults developed primarily in remote parts of New Guinea and other Melanesian and Micronesian societies in the southwest Pacific Ocean, beginning with the first significant arrivals of Westerners in the 19th century. Similar behaviors have, however, also appeared elsewhere in the world.
Cargo cult activity in the Pacific region increased significantly during and immediately after World War II, when the residents of these regions observed the Japanese and American combatants bringing in large amounts of matériel. When the war ended, the military bases closed and the flow of goods and materials ceased. In an attempt to attract further deliveries of goods, followers of the cults engaged in ritualistic practices such as building crude imitation landing strips, aircraft and radio equipment, and mimicking the behavior that they had observed of the military personnel operating them.”
The red thin line throughout this story is that mimicking doesn’t work! Attempting to recreate succesful outcome by replicating circumstances associated with the outcome, although those circumstances are unrelated to the causes of the outcome or insufficient to produce them by themselves, will fail! In our day-to-day lives, we come across this situation frequently. People who repeat a given ritual just because they were told to do so, without knowing why they actually do it. Let’s get down to earth, and reflect by looking towards our own job… Are their aspects where we just repeat things we’re said, without actually knowing why we do it? *silence*
The tail of the fish
There is another, not so known story, that reflects to the same situation.
A mother is baking a fish. Before she throws in the fish, she chops of the tail. The little daughter asks; “Mommy, why do you chop of the tail?”. The mother replies; “Because my mother did so.” The little daughter visits the grandmother a week later and asks ; “Granny, why do you chop of the tail of a fish before baking it?”. The grandmother replies; “Because my mother did so.” That week, the little girl visits her great-grandmother in the nursing home and ask here ; “Nana, why do you chop of the tail of a fish before baking it?”. The great-grandmother replies; “Because the pan was to small for the fish. So we chopped of the tail so it would fit!”.
So know why you are doing this… Mimicking might work out sometimes, yet in most of the cases you will not be working efficiently.
The concept of a soccer sweeper is something that can be applied to business formations too. The objective of a sweeper is to clear dangers that got past the initial defense.
I know it might sound strange to see “customer request” of “business actions” as an attack, but bare with me… We tend to set up our organization in a way that we structure all the flows. Yet we often see that informal streams exist or that bottleneck situations occur. It is in these situations that a sweeper role becomes interesting.
A sweeper is mostly a player who has great insight (experience) into the play and keeps a general overview. When something happens that’s not part of our flow, then he jumps in and clears the issue. We sometimes bring in the concept of “Service Level Managers” to tackle these issues. In other coorporations they’re called a different more sexy name. The point is that you have to consider a “sweeper” role…
Who to pick?
To be honest, I haven’t finalized my view on that matter yet. Currently I see two types of persons who might fulfil the role.
- One is a young (at heart) person who doesn’t rank high in the organization. It’s a typical “hands on” guy who likes to keep a general overview of everything and isn’t shy of new things. The tough part is for his manager to get an insight on his work(load).
- The other person is kind of a “teamleader”, who manages the team (in a structural way), where he jumps in (on technical matters) when things get rough. The advantage here is that this leader knows the painful spots of the organisation, and he’s in a situation to lobby/act for corrections. An additional surplus is that he gains in respect from his peers, as he’s doing the same “shit” as they are. He’s not “boss-ing” them around.
- The same concept applies to Volleyball too. They have a sweeper (called libero) too. This person is in charge of doing solely defense stuff, and is not allowed in offense. He’s there to get the team out of the tough attacks and jump into the holes of the defense.
- Never use more than ONE libero (free role). It might seem tempting, but a team with more free players will forget it’s tactics and create too many holes. One should drill (procedures!) a team to create SOP’s (standard operating procedures). This organisation has to be able to catch 95%. The libero is only there when a play goes wrong!
It’s a big presentation (1:20), but it shows the potential of a new collaboration concept. I must say that the usability is a big plus compared to what’s currently on the market segment!
Carbon copying is the technique of using carbon paper to produce one or more copies simultaneously during the creation of paper documents. A sheet of carbon paper is sandwiched between two sheets of paper and the pressure applied by the writing implement to the top sheet causes pigment from the carbon paper to make a similar mark on the copy. More than one copy can be made by stacking several sheets with carbon paper between each pair. Four or five copies is a practical limit. The top sheet is the original and each of the additional sheets is called a carbon copy. The use of carbon copies declined with the advent of photocopying and electronic document creation and distribution (word processing).
It is still common for a business letter to include, at the end, a list of names preceded by the abbreviation “cc:”, indicating that the named persons are to receive a copy of the letter, even though carbon paper is no longer used to make the copies. The contacts that are listed as adressed “to” are required to read the mail and take further actions (if needed), where those listed in “cc” are only assumed to read the mail (when the time allows it). The aspect of the “blind carbon copy” (bcc) adds an extra perspective where one could be informed without any of the other contacts to even know!
Practically Spoken : Privacy
Need to mail a bunch of people? Add yourself in the “to” list and -all- the other contacts as “bcc”. This way you avoid to violate other people’s privacy by exposing their private email accounts!
Let’s say you could win 1 million Euro when participating with a lottery. The odds are about 1 to a billion… How much would you pay for this lottery ticket?
Now let’s say that you’re in a lottery where you have a one-out-of-a-billion chance to lose 5% of all your assets. How much would you pay for a lottery ticket which insures you against this?
What you already have is worth more to you than what you might gain. Yet the same math & currency value applies to both gaining and losing. People tend to panic when there is a risk of losing something, despite how small it may be. Every change is seen as a potential loss and not a potential win.
A trader takes several risks on a daily basis, yet (s)he knows/judges the odds of every investement. Let’s say that they have a win ratio of 8 out of 10. When they invest their money into 10 opportunities, they should anticipate that 8 winners exceed the losses made at the two failed investments.
So how do you respond to risks? Do you fear or anticipate them?
It’s not always about thinking what’s the right thing to do, sometimes it’s just about checking out the opposite! The next presentation has some good points in it. I don’t agree with all of them, yet you can decide on that yourself… 😉
Description : Using Play-Doh and the Apple iPod as examples, Robert Sutton, Co-Director of the Center for Work, Technology, and Organization at Stanford University, explains that often creativity is simply making new things out of old ones.