November 12, 2008 06:12:17
Posted By Uli Hofer

Tough times need new solutions, solutions ‘outside the box’. How often do we try to solve basic problems of our company with tweaks and bandaids, adding or removing layers of our organization without even looking at the deeper cause of our problems?
To start thinking ‘outside the box’ you have to start looking at the box from outside and ask yourself if ‘it’ makes sense. My high school math teacher drilled us to ask this same question every time we were done solving a math problem. As illustration he used the following little story I would like to share:
In the early 1900’s an engineer starts his first job after graduation at a shipyard. He is given the task of calculating the center of gravity of a new ship. So he takes a set of drawings and his slide ruler and goes to work. After about three weeks he has the result and brings it to his boss. The boss looks at it for just a few second and says “wrong, do it again”. Since in the early 1900’s you didn’t question your boss, our young engineer goes back, thoroughly checks his calculations, corrects a few mistakes and after another 3 weeks comes up with a slightly different result. When showing the new result to his boss, he gets the same comment “wrong, do it again”. Now, truly angry, our young engineer blurts out “I worked a total of six weeks on these calculations and you looked at the results for not more than 10 seconds, how can you tell the result is wrong?” “Well” says the boss, “the center of gravity can not be outside the ship”.

Categories:
Tough Times