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Garrett Hardin: 3 Filters Needed to Think About Problems | Farnam Street Blog

Garrett Hardin: 3 Filters Needed to Think About Problems

One of the best parts of Garrett Hardin’s wonderful Filters Against Folly is when he explores the three filters that help us interpret reality. No matter how much we’d like it to, the world does not only operate in our circle of competence.

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Learning to celebrate failure at a young age led to this billionaire’s success | Business Insider

Learning to celebrate failure at a young age led to this billionaire’s success

VIDEO: “Failure for me became not trying.”

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Thinking Begets Thinking

A great Deming-ism I just stumbled across in my old notes  from a Scott Sedam article How To Get Smart from the 7/11/2000 issue of Professional Builder:

Deming lamented that our companies and our country were becoming so obsessed with job skills that we were turning every educational endeavor into a trade school. He had nothing against trade schools, but he said it is an insult to not give people the opportunity to learn, grow and develop by thinking — not simply teaching instructions and procedures. And this goes for people at all levels. Knowing the fact or the thing is usually less important than knowing how it got that way.

My favorite Deming example that he used to illustrate goes as follows: Take two kids. Give them each an assignment. Tell one to go find out the name of the capital of Wisconsin. Tell the other to find out why the capital of Wisconsin is Madison. Deming would simply smile and say, “Oh, what a difference.”

The difference, of course, is that student No. 2 would have to research, explore, think, reason — work his brain. And here’s the key. The next day, at his job at the Costco warehouse, Student Two would be much more likely to think of a better way to do a job. Thinking begets thinking.

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Wow! Benjamin Zander on Music and Life (and Leadership)

The Road Less TraveledWow! Benjamin Zander (co-author along with his wife Rosamund Stone Zander of the great book The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life. gives us a Ted Talk! (via LifeHacker)

(via LifeHacker)

If the words "classical music appreciation" make your eyes glaze over, conductor Benjamin Zander will change your mind in this short talk from the invite-only TED event. Zander connects music to leadership to possibility to passion and ties it all up in an insightful commentary on life in general. I just finished Zander’s book, The Art of Possibility (highly recommended), but seeing him deliver just the few of the book’s points in the flesh is a special treat…


At 17:20 Zander gives us an amazing piece of information on Leadership:

"…I had an amazing experience, I was forty-five years old. I had been condcting for twenty years and I suddenly had a realization,…the conductor of an orchestra doesn’t make a sound. My picture appears on the front of the CD (audience laughs) but the conductor doesn’t make a sound. He depends for his power to make other people powerful. At that changed everything for me. It was totally life changing. People in my orchestra came up to me and said "Ben, what happend?". That’s what happened. I realized my job was to awaken POSSIBILITY in other people. And of course I wanted to know if I was doing it and you know how you find out? You look at their eyes. If their eyes are shinny you know you are doing it…

…If the eyes are not shinny you get to ask a question. And this is the question: Who am I being that my players eyes are not shinning?


So now I have just one last thought which is it really makes a difference what we say,… the words that come out of our mouth. I learned this from a woman that survived Auschwitz, one of the rare surviviors, she went to Auschwitz when she was just fifteen years old. And um…. her brother was eight. And the parents were lost. And um….she told me this,…she said "We were in the train going to Auschwitz and I looked down and saw my brother’s shoes were missing. And I said why are you so stupid, why can’t you keep your things together for goodness sake." The way an elder sister would speak to a younger brother. Unfortunatly it was the last thing she ever said to him because she never saw him again. He did not survive. And so when she came out of Auschwitz she made a vow. She told me this,…she said "I walked out of Auschwitz into life and I made a vow and the vow was, I will never say anything that couldn’t stand as the last thing I ever say." Now can we do that? No, and we’ll make ourselves wrong, and others wrong, but it is a possibility to live into.

Just great stuff! Entertaining, informative, and inspiring.

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Relative Income

Relative Income, It’s a great concept so what is so many of us don’t seem t get it.

The 4-Hour WorkweekAs I was working today I was re-reading the The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich, by Timothy Ferris by listening to the audio book edition as I was working today I was remnded of a passage I really enjoyed when I read it the first time through.

Two hard-working chaps are headed towards each other. Chap A moving at 80 hours per week and Chap B moving at 10 hours per week. They both make $50,000 per year. Who will be richer when the pass in the middle of the night? If you said B, you would be correct, and this is the difference between absolute and relative income.

Absolute income is measured using one holy and inalterable variable: the raw and almighty dollar. Jane Doe makes $100,000 per year and is thus twice as rich as John Doe, who makes $50,000 per year.

Relative income uses two variables: the dollar and time, usually hours. The whole “per year” concept is arbitrary and makes it easy to trick yourself. Let’s look at the real trade.

Jane Doe makes $100,000 per year, $2,000 for each of 50 weeks per year, and works 80 hours per week. Jane Doe thus makes $25 per hour.

John Doe makes $50,000 per year, $1,000 for each of 50 weeks per year, but works 10 hours per week and hence makes $100 per hour.

In relative income, John is four times richer.

… The top New Rich mavericks make at least $5,000 per hour.

The other day I was in one of the discussion forums and I heard one contractor telling another fellow that was getting set to start out on his own that he could expect to spend

“…65 hours working [in the field], another 20 for office crap”

…and I thought that was just insane. That’s not a life , it’s a self imposed prison sentence and in my estimation evidence of poor business design. To his credit the guy who was putting the pieces together and doing the planning to go out on his own wasn’t buying into any of that insanity. The insane guys who work that kind of schedule (and there are lot of them out there) are often the ones who don’t have a decent or respectable Net Profit margin in place and try to make up for that lack by doing it “in volume“.

Generally speaking contractors need to work smarter learn to substitute that for working harder and longer.

Perhaps the key central premise of the booke The 4-Hour Workweek Open The 4-Hour Workweek Book Info in a new window is that you are only “rich” if you have leisure time to enjoy yourself. It probably should go on the contractors required reading list.

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The Little Lessons we get hit with every day in Lean, TOC, & Six Sigma: Lesson 1; Poke-Yoke (Mistake-proofing a process)

Purple Curve EffectLast night I bought and downloaded Jeff “SKI” Kinsey’s e-book Purple Curve Effect: Throughput on Command (hey it’s just $2.00, what a deal!) and picked up on this little lesson in Lean Thinking that had a touch of Six Sigma to it too.

This little lesson came up as I was printing it out. I like to print out documents so I can read, highlight, and write notes in the margins (see Looking Back on My Thoughts On Reading from August in ‘97 for more on that). Generally speaking if whatever I’m printing out works out to be about 15 pages or more I’ll bind them up using A GBC hole punch and presentation binding comb setup I have.

Well I went to print out SKI’s book and given that it’s 185 pages both to make the book less thick and to save on paper I would print the odd pages first and then flip the bundle of printed pages over and print again only this time printing the even pages and then I have the book in front and back printed pages.

Well I printed it all out and as I was getting set to bind it up I noticed something was wrong with the page sequencing starting around page 80. Instead of page 85 having page 86 printed on the backside it had page 84. What the h….?!?

I quickly discovered what must have happened. Printing through the first run of just the odd pages at some point the printer grabbed two sheets of paper rather than just one so in that first run I had a uncalled for totally out of place blank page. When I printed it through for the even pages everything printed out just fine until I got that blank page which would then throw the rest of the printing page logic off.

That’s not a big deal right? I can just print the pages from 85 on again. And what is the lesson in Lean and Six Sigma in all of this?

Well as soon as the problem arose I realized there was a simple Lean term or tool for a procedure that I ignored and didn’t use that had I done it, it would have prevented the problem from ever occurring. The lean term is Poke-Yoke which is “a method of making process robust and mistake-proof”. What was the Poke-Yoke? Often printed on the packaging the paper comes in and certainly in the printer manuals for our printers in mentions that we should bend back the stack of paper and flip or leaf through it to separate the pages before loading the paper into the printer.

A simple second and a half procedure I just simply ignored wasted some 40 sheets of paper, a little ink and the entire process of printing out the e-book which should have taken maybe 7-9 minutes ended up taking me four to five times longer that it should of had. I had to discover and then diagnose the problem and then find where I had to restart the process from and then restart and repeat the process again from that point.

A little lesson learned….


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