Qualities of a Lean Leader:

leadership

In today’s post I will look at the qualities of a lean leader. I have been using the term “lean leader” in my posts. This is not an official title, and this does not mean “supervisor” or “manager”. A lean leader is someone who takes initiative in improving one’s process and in developing those around them.

I have wondered which qualities a lean leader needs. I believe that the best source for this is Michael J Gelb’s 1998 book, “How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci.”Michael researched Leonardo’s life and identified seven attributes to help one think like Leonardo Da Vinci. Michael listed them as Italian words to pay homage to the master. These are as follows;

  • Curiosità – An insatiable quest for knowledge and continuous improvement
  • Dimostrazione – Learning from experience
  • Sensazione – Sharpening the senses
  • Sfumato – Managing ambiguity and change
  • Arte/Scienza – Whole-brain thinking
  • Corporalità – Body-mind fitness
  • Connessione – Systems thinking

1) Curiosita:

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Being curious is an essential attribute a lean leader should have. Being curious forces you to ask questions. Asking questions allows the other party to be involved. This leads to continuous improvement and discoveries. Michael defined this as “an insatiably curious approach to life and an unrelenting quest for continuous learning.”

2) Dimostrazione:

Soichiro Honda

This can be described as a willingness to fail in  order to learn from mistakes. Michael described this as “a commitment to test knowledge through experience, persistence, and a willingness to learn from mistakes.”The example I have here is of Soichiro Honda. Soichiro did not have any formal education, and he went on to build Honda Motor Co.

3) Sensazione:

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Taiichi Ohno would be proud of this attribute. Michael described this as “the continual refinement of the senses, especially sight, as the means to enliven experience.” As the lean learners know, Ohno was famous for his “Ohno circle”. Ohno used to teach supervisors, managers and engineers alike to learn to observe the wastes by making them stand inside a hand drawn chalk circle. They had to stay inside there until they start seeing the wastes like Ohno did.

4) Sfumato:

less is more
Sfumato refers to the style of painting Leonardo used. Sfumato is the technique of allowing tones and colors to shade gradually into one another, producing softened outlines or hazy forms. Michael described this as “a willingness to embrace ambiguity, paradox and uncertainty.” Toyota Production System has many paradoxes and counter-intuitive principles. Most of this is because of the trial and error methods that Ohno utilized. All of the manufacturing norms were challenged and broken.

5) Arte/Scienza:

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This attribute represents the synergy between art and science; logic and intuition. The classic TV show Star Trek played around this theme since the two main characters Spock and Kirk represented logic and intuition respectively. A lean leader needs both logic and intuition in order to develop oneself. Michael described this as “the development of balance between science and art, logic and imagination”.

6) Corporalità:

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In the Book of Five Rings, Miyamoto Musashi talked about fluidity. “Really skilful people never get out of time, and are always deliberate, and never appear busy.”To me, this is the essence of Corporalita. Michael described this as “the cultivation of grace, ambidexterity, fitness and poise.” The quality of Corporalita is achieved only through constant practice as one strives towards their ideal state.

7) Connessione:

systems

Dr. Deming and Eliyahu Glodratt would be proud to see this attribute on the list. This attribute is about “systems thinking”. Michael described this as “a recognition and appreciation for the interconnections of all things and phenomena.” A lean leader should be able to see everything from a big picture as well as a small picture view points. My favorite meme about Systems Thinking is the Never Miss A Leg Day meme. Local optimization of the just exercising the upper body leads to poor system optimization (muscular upper body and disproportionate skinny legs).

Leonardo, the Writer:

Leonardo da Vinci was also a writer. In his notebooks, he wrote numerous “jests” and fables. I will finish this post with a jest and a fable from the great mind of Leonardo Da Vinci:

A Jest:

It was asked of a painter why, since he made such beautiful figures, his children were so ugly; to which the painter replied that he made his pictures by day, and his children by night.

 The Tree & the Pole, A Fable:

 A tree which grew luxuriantly, lifting to heaven its plume of green leaves, objected to the presence of a straight, dry old pole beside it.

“Pole, you are too close to me. Can you not move further away?”

The pole pretended not to hear and made no reply.

Then the tree turned to the thorn hedge surrounding it.

“Hedge, can you not go somewhere else? You irritate me.”

The hedge pretended not to hear, and made no reply.

“Beautiful tree,” said a lizard, raising his wise little head to look up at the tree, “do you not see that the pole is holding you up straight? Do you not realize that the hedge is protecting you from bad company?

Always keep on learning…

In case you missed it, my last post was Dorothy’s Red Shoes and Toyota.

What is my purpose?

purpose

Peter Drucker declared in his 1954 book “The Practice of Management” that the purpose of a business is to create a customer. In today’s post I will talk about purpose, specifically what do I think my purpose is at work? There is of course the utilitarian answer about my purpose at work – to fulfill my job duties/responsibilities. However, fulfilling the job duties/responsibilities does not always complete my purpose.

The purpose is to create/increase value in anything I do:

Peter Drucker in the book “The Practice of Management” talks about understanding customers. He notes that the manufacturer of gas kitchen stoves should not consider himself to be in competition with only other gas kitchen stove manufacturers. The customer is not just buying a stove. The customer is looking for the easiest way to cook food. There are many forms of stoves/utensils available to the customer that are in direct competition. There are several different ways to cook food including microwave ovens, cooking ranges, grills, etc. Ignoring them will result in loss of business. This example may be outdated. However, the core idea is applicable here. If you are simply fulfilling just your basic job duties/responsibilities, you are like the gas stove manufacturer. You will not grow and develop yourself if you just stick to your defined duties/responsibilities and you will eventually get passed by.

Your purpose is to create/increase value in anything you do. From a Toyotayesque philosophy, this is similar to the Continuous Improvement attitude. You are always trying to improve what you are doing. You are expanding your boundaries and you have a responsibility to develop yourself. One of the two pillars for the Toyota Philosophy identified in the Toyota Way 2001 is “Continuous Improvement”. The first key concept for “Continuous Improvement” is the “Spirit of Challenge”. In Jeffrey Liker’s “The Toyota Way to Lean Leadership”, Liker talks about the Spirit of Challenge as follows;

“Like the two founding Toyoda family members, every Toyota leader is expected not just to excel in his current role but to take on the challenges to achieve a bold vision with energy and enthusiasm.”

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The two Toyoda family members are Sakichi Toyoda and Kiichiro Toyoda. I have referenced them in my last two posts. It is likely that Liker meant every Toyota employee when he said Toyota leader. This type of thinking is instilled from an organization standpoint. To quote Peter Drucker again;

“Most people need to feel that they are here for a purpose, and unless an organization can connect to this need to leave something behind that makes this a better world, or at least a different one, it won’t be successful over time.”

Toyota has a core concept of True North. True North is your ideal state. You can never truly achieve this. However, it is your responsibility to strive moving towards your True North.

Final Words and a story on purpose:

I am a firm believer of taking responsibility and authority to do the right thing, and to develop yourself. One must always try to increase/add value in what they do. Increasing value in what you do ultimately increases your value. This is the Spirit of Challenge. This is your inner purpose.

I will finish off with an anecdote, I heard from the Indian author Shiv Khera (in his words).

16 years ago in Singapore I gave a taxi driver a business card to take me to a particular address. At the last point he circled round the building. His meter read 11$ but he took only 10.

I said Henry, your meter reads 11$ how come you are taking only 10.

He said Sir, I am a taxi driver, I am supposed to be bringing you straight to the destination. Since I did not know the last spot, I had to circle around the building. Had I brought you straight here, the meter would have read 10$. Why should you be paying for my ignorance?

He said Sir, legally, I can claim 11$ but ethically I am entitled to only 10. He further added that Singapore is a tourist destination and many people come here for three or four days. After clearing the immigrations and customs, the first experience is always with the taxi driver and if that is not good, the balance three to four days are not pleasant either. He said Sir I am not a taxi driver, I am the Ambassador of Singapore without a diplomatic passport.

In my opinion he probably did not go to school beyond the 8th grade, but to me he was a professional. To me his behavior reflected pride in performance and character. That day I learnt that one needs more than professional qualification to be a professional.

Always keep on learning…

In case you missed it, my last post was Toyota Production System House – Just-in-Time (JIT) and Jidoka (Part 2).

Wizard of Oz, Camel’s Nose and Being a Change Agent:

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In my last post, I talked about learning from Dr. Seuss’ quotes. In his “Greens Eggs and Ham” book, one of the characters(Sam) tries to persuade the other character to eat green eggs and ham. “Try it, try it, you may like it”, Sam says.

Aldean Jakeman commented on this post and stated that the “Green Eggs and Ham” book was her first change management book. This got me thinking about the “Wizard of Oz” story, and the story of the camel’s nose.

Learning from the Wizard of Oz:

There are four main characters in “Wizard of Oz”, written by Frank Baum. These four characters represent a quality characteristic that every change agent needs:

  • Dorothy – the main protagonist of the story. She was swept into the wonderful fantasy land of Oz by a cyclone. All she wants is to go back home to Kansas.
  • Scarecrow – the first friend Dorothy makes on her journey home.
  • Tin Woodman – a character who originally was a real human, but now is completely made of tin. Tin Woodman is the second friend that Dorothy makes.
  • Cowardly Lion – the third and final member of Dorothy’s team.

True North (Home):

“True North” is a strong concept in Toyota Production System (TPS). True North depicts our ideal state. True North is what we are striving towards. We are trying to reach True North. In a TPS/Lean way, Dorothy represents the characteristic of True North, our ideal state. All she wants is to go home (True North). A change agent should form his/her team, like Dorothy did, to reach their goal (true north).

Heart:

The scarecrow represents the quality of “the heart”. A change agent should have his/her heart in the game. This allows you to think from the other person’s viewpoint. Having the heart characteristic makes you realize that this is a win-win, non-zero sum game. The heart represents empathy and compassion, without which you cannot gain the buy-in from your team. You should be open for suggestions and ideas for improvements. Toyota has identified “Respect for Humanity” as one of the two pillars of Toyota Way.

Brain:

Tin Woodman represents “the brain” characteristic. A change agent should never stop learning. You should be smart enough to try things out and learn from your mistakes. You should also be smart enough to realize that you need to train and develop more change agents. A change agent should know how to approach when he/she is trying to implement a change. Here, Brain represents both knowledge and wisdom. A wise change agent will request his/her team to try things out at first. The “for trial only” approach eases them into the actual implementation.

Courage:

Cowardly Lion represents “courage”. A change agent should be brave enough to look back at himself/herself with a critical eye and challenge assumptions. A change agent should be open about the problems, and transparent in communication. At Toyota, they talk about the importance of “Hansei”. “Hansei”, a Japanese term, loosely translated means “self reflection”. This can act as a strong and effective feedback loop that will steer you back on course towards True North. Having courage also means that you are capable of saying “No”. Ultimately, a change agent should be brave enough to stand up for what he/she thinks is right. Winston Churchill, the former UK prime minister, said the following about courage:

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”

Final Words:

I will finish off with an Arabian story that goes by the name “The Camel’s Nose”. The story has created the phrase “camel’s nose” in English language that is a metaphor for allowing a larger change in the pretense of small incremental changes. This phrase has a negative connotation since the change represents something that is not desirable. Here, I will be presenting it as a tactic for a change agent to encourage their team to implement the change. This story is about a wise camel, and the importance of implementing a change little by little at a time.

It was an unusually cold night in the desert. The camel was outside, tied to the tent. The master was inside the tent, comfortable and getting ready to sleep.

“Master,” the camel said putting his nose under the flap, “it is so cold outside. Can I at least put my nose inside the tent?”

“Sure,” the kind master replied, and rolled over.

A little later, the master rolled over and found that the camel had his whole head inside the tent.

“Master, it feels so nice here. Can I please put my front legs inside the tent too?”, the camel asked.

“Okay, you may”, the master said moving a little toward the edge since the tent was small.

The master again rolled over trying to sleep. A little while later, the camel again said “Master, Master, can I come inside the tent all the way? I will stand inside. It is very cold outside.”

“Yes,” the master said unwittingly. The master went back to sleep.

The next time the master woke up, he found himself outside the tent and cold.

I am not suggesting here that the change agents should be the camel kicking out the master. I am presenting the story to show the importance of taking things a small step at a time.

Always keep on learning…

In case you missed it, my last post was Learning from Dr. Seuss.

Learning From Dr. Seuss:

drseuss

Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel), the renowned children’s book author, was born on this date (March 2nd) in 1904. Interestingly, he used “Dr.” in his pen name since his parents really wanted him to be a doctor. In today’s post, I will look at eight great quotes from him to learn from.

I immigrated to America from India. I did not know Dr. Seuss until I met my wife here in America. I grew up with Enid Blyton, the English author. I very much enjoyed reading the Dr. Seuss books with my kids because of his unique writing style. As I was introducing my three children to his books, I was also learning from Dr. Seuss at the same time.

Here are eight lessons from Dr. Seuss:

  • From there to here, and here to there, funny things are everywhere.(Source – One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish)

As Lean practitioners, we can translate this as “from there to here, and here to there, wastes are everywhere”! The funny things are the different wastes! Everything we do has waste in it. Taiichi Ohno is a big proponent of eliminating waste. He made managers stand inside a circle and look for wastes. Wastes forces us to be non-value adding, and increases overall cost.

  • Why fit in when you were born to stand out? (Source – Unknown)

If you try to copy the best, you will only come in second. Trying to copy Toyota does not make sense unless you have the same problems as Toyota. You should try to create your own system – Company XYZ Production System rather than a frail copy of Toyota Production System. Understand your problems and then address them, creating your own production system.

  • Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple. (Source – Looking Tall by Standing Next to Short People)

This is a true gem. The insurmountable problems become ant hills once they are solved. This is akin to Occam’s razor in some sense. Occam’s razor can be loosely stated as “the simplest answers provide the best explanations”. We have a tendency to complicate things. As an Engineer, I can vouch for this. At Toyota, they talk about using automation as the last resort to improve a process. They push for simple solutions.

  • You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the guy who’ll decide where to go.” (Source – “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!)

You have brains in your head – you need to use them. You have feet in your shoes – you need to go to the Gemba. This is a perfect summation of Genchi Genbutsu – going to the Gemba to learn the actual facts. You have to go to the source, where the action takes place and see for yourself.

  • You’ll miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut.(Source – I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!)

You have to keep your eyes open but you have to observe. Seeing and observing are two different things. When you keep your eyes open, you start to see things. When you see more things, you start to observe things. When you observe things more, you start to understand things more.

  • “It is better to know how to learn than to know. (Source – Unknown)

It’s not the tools system, it is the thinking system. To know and to understand are two different things. To know something makes you rigid in your thinking. To understand something makes you flexible in your thinking.

  • How did it get so late so soon?(Source – Poem by Dr. Seuss)

There is no better time than now to start improving and to start learning. Do not wait for the best idea to happen. Do not wait for the new and improved machine. Do not wait for next month. Now is indeed the right time. As Hillel the Elder said, “If not now, when?”

  • Try them, try them, and you may! Try them and you may, I say.(Source – Green Eggs and Ham)

This is the best way to implement process improvement activities. You can say “try them, try them, you may like them”. All you need them to do is to try the idea out. Once tried, they will provide ideas to improve and make them better. The lesson here is that you should not try to force your ideas, rather ask them to try it out. After all, what is the harm in trying it out? Brian Fitzpatrick, and Ben Collins-Sussman recommends saying “let’s try this for 30 days. If this does not work, we will go back to the way it was.” This approach helps in getting buy-in. Almost always, they will start using the new method. If they do not, at least you will get feedback as to why the new method does not work.

Thank you Dr. Seuss for everything you have done.

Happy Birthday!

Always keep on learning…

In case you missed it, my last post was Be an Amateur at the Gemba.

Be a Samurai Warrior at the Gemba:

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There is a great Japanese notion about the Samurai Warrior. I first came across this in Norman Bodek’s preface to “Kanban and Just-in-Time at Toyota”. The main idea is that a Samurai warrior never stops perfecting his style. This is akin to a manager who should never stop improving his managerial ability. The Samurai warrior also never stops polishing his sword. This is akin to the manager constantly trying to improve the process and the product.

This got me thinking about Miyamoto Musashi. Miyamoto Musashi (1564 – 1645) was a great swordsman and a great artist from Japan. He is most commonly known as the author of the great book – “The Book of Five Rings. He was said to be undefeated in duels. His book is still considered to be a great book on strategy similar to the Art of War. His book consists of five different themes (earth, water, fire, wind and void). In this post, I will talk about five of his sayings from the Book of Five Rings that resonated the most with me.

  • If you practice diligently day and night in the strategy, your spirit will naturally broaden. Thus you will come to comprehend large scale strategy and the strategy of one on one combat. (Book of Earth)

Musashi is talking about the small picture and the big picture view here. In the book, the strategy refers to the use of the long sword. He advises the student to practice every day and to be fluent in both large scale strategy and small scale strategy.

In a similar vein, Musashi states the following in the Book of Water:

In strategy it is important to see distant things as if they were close and to take a distanced view of close things. It is important in strategy to know the enemy’s sword and not to be distracted by insignificant movements of his sword. (Book of Water)

The key points I am taking away to use are diligent practice in order to broaden your spirit. This allows you to see the big picture vs. the small picture, and strengthens your ability to look at the small details and not lose sight of the forest for the trees.

Musashi also said, “Know the smallest things and the biggest things, the shallowest things and the deepest things.”

  • The teacher is as a needle, the disciple is as thread. You must practice constantly.(Book of Earth)

In Lean we say that the Teacher has not taught, if the student has not learned. Musashi requires the student to follow the teacher as a thread follows the needle. This is such a powerful analogy.

  • Really skilful people never get out of time, and are always deliberate, and never appear busy.(Book of Wind)

When you look at successful people, they make you go, “How does he/she do it?” Continuous learning and practice makes you better at what you do and allows you to become so skilful that you are able to flow gracefully. Business does not equate to busyness. Being busy and getting things done are two different things.

  • You should not have any special fondness for a particular weapon, or anything else, for that matter. Too much is the same as not enough. (Book of Earth)

Musashi cautions us against having a favorite tool. This is akin to the saying; if you have a hammer everything you see is a nail. One should use the right tool for the right problem. To use the right tool, one should understand what the problem is. Do not become over-reliant on a favored approach or process.

  • There is rhythm in everything; however, the rhythm in strategy, in particular, cannot be mastered without a great deal of hard practice. (Book of Earth)

There is a constant theme in the book about being fluid. Musashi talks about having a rhythm in what you do. This is a toyotayesque approach of production leveling and takt time. Musashi also rightfully points out that the rhythm cannot be achieved without a great deal of practice.

Final Words:

Musashi’s book succinctly sums up the idea of constant practice and constant learning. I encourage the reader to read the Book of Five Rings. It is full of great nuggets that are applicable at the Gemba. I also encourage the reader to be a Samurai warrior at the Gemba – never stop practicing your style (always keep on improving) and never stop polishing your sword (always keep on learning).

I will finish off with a Zen Story that talks about working smarter and not harder:

A young man went to a famous teacher and asked, “I am devoted to your way of thinking. I am willing to work hard under you. How long will it take me to reach enlightenment?”

“Ten years”, the teacher replied.

“Ten years!”, the young man remarked. “But I want to reach enlightenment faster. I will work harder and devote ten or more hours a day. How long will it take me then?”

The teacher sipped his tea, thought for a bit and said. “Twenty years.”

Always keep on learning…

In case you missed it, my last post was Cpk/Ppk and Percent Conforming.

Ten Things I Learned from The Walking Dead

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The Walking Dead is one of the most successful TV shows in America. The story follows Rick Grimes and his group of friends and family in a Zombie apocalypse. I got hooked onto it last year and binge watched all the available seasons on Netflix with my wife. I have come to realize that The Walking Dead can teach you one or two things about Management. Here is my list of 10 things I learned from The Walking Dead. I am hopeful that you can also learn to survive the “problems apocalypse” in your work or life.

  • Observe and let the patterns emerge:

The whole world is falling apart. Nobody knows what to do. Everybody is turning into zombies. It is chaos everywhere. Have you felt that sometimes at work everything is falling apart? There is one problem after the other. What is going on?

You have to let the patterns emerge to start making sense of things. At first Rick and his group thought that you have to be bitten for a person to become a zombie. It was later learned that any person once he dies becomes a zombie. Similarly, they learned that a zombie can be “killed” by destroying its brain. The group has learned to observe and let the patterns emerge! Once the patterns emerge, you can start creating basic rules to survive.

  • This too shall pass:

Rick and his group have learned the important lesson – this too shall pass. If you see a horde of zombies coming your way or if you are surrounded by zombies, panicking will not help. Understand that the problem seems insurmountable at the time, but the problem too shall pass. Each problem is an opportunity that you can learn from.

  • Learn to adapt/ keep learning new things to survive:

Rick’s group contains people from different walks of life. Glenn, a major character was a pizza delivery boy prior to the zombie apocalypse. Glenn learned the superior zombie survival skills to emerge as a leader in his group. Rick’s group had to learn to adapt to live in the new world. They had to always keep learning new things to survive, such as fighting, using guns, hunting etc. Similarly, to overcome stagnation apocalypse at your work or in life, you have to keep learning new things.

As Dr. Deming may or may not have said:

“It is not necessary to adapt/change. Survival is not mandatory.”

  • Teamwork:

The only way Rick’s group is able to keep on surviving is because of only one thing – teamwork. Each person in his group is important. They have appointed Rick as their leader, and they work together to survive. Rick’s group goes out from their haven to the outside world in order to scavenge food and necessities to survive. They risk their lives to do this, and they are able to do it only because of teamwork. Nobody tries to sub-optimize. They know that it is not about one person, and that it is about the group. Anybody trying to look out only for themselves gets killed. It is about system optimization!

  • Rotate/follow-up:

Even if you are good at what you do, you need to rotate your job. You need experts but your team thrives from cross-training. Especially on an assembly line, rotation of the job is important to stay alert. If you are not on the assembly line, request review of what you do. You will learn more that way. Give and take feedback! Remember this, when you are on a watch for zombies, always rotate for survival.

  • Ground Yourself:

Life can be stressful. Your work can be stressful. It is easy to lose hope. You need to learn to manage stress. Find joy in the little things of life. You have to learn methods to ground yourself back to your place of confidence and serenity. The lesson of grounding yourself is very important in martial arts disciplines such as Aikido. Rick’s group has enemies in both zombies and remaining predatory human survivors. Rick’s group knows that losing your cool can get yourself killed.

  • There is almost always a way:

No matter how unsolvable a problem is, there is always a way. Sometimes, there is more than one way. Rick’s group has been in several situations where they felt like there is no way out. But always they found a way out.

Something that I have always wondered while watching the show is– why not climb a tree to escape from the zombies? Zombies do not climb trees.

  • Make sure everybody knows the plan:

One thing that Rick is really good at is that he lets his group know what the plan is. This is important in order to survive. Rick has laid down the rules, and everybody is happy to adhere to the rules. In the show, whenever the leader does not share his plans (e.g. the governor, a negative character in the show) it always ends up bad for his group. When everybody is working towards the common goal, you reach your goal faster, better and cheaper. You need to let your team know the what, the why, the who, the when and the how. Keep your communication lines open and your plans transparent.

  • Develop your people:

Rick is wise to know that you need to develop your people. Almost all the members in his group started off as scared and unsure. For example Carol, a strong character and care taker in his group, was initially portrayed as meek and defenseless. Carol has become a resourceful and strong leader in her own right. She provides counsel to Rick with difficult decisions and protects the group from outside dangers.

Rick helped develop his group members to be strong and able to handle themselves in an emergency. Rick has developed his group with a strong purpose – survival of the entire group. Rick is able to let others lead when required. Rick knows that he cannot survive without his group.

  • Don’t rest on your laurels:

This is most likely the largest of Rick’s pet peeves. He hates the idea of being complacent. His group has been through a lot, but he does not want them to drop their guard. One misstep can lead to a big loss. He is keen on growing themselves and being ready for what comes next. Today’s success does not guarantee tomorrow’s success.

Always keep on learning, and remember to run for the tree when the zombies come…

8 Things I learned from Spock

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Spock (Leonard Nimoy) is no more. The character of Spock from Star Trek has had a huge impact on many peoples’ lives. Leonard Nimoy will be deeply missed.

Here are 8 things that I learned from Spock.

1) If you do not have enough information, say that you do not have enough information or that your hypothesis is based on the limited information. As a Science Officer, he very well knew that he had to give the best possible opinion at all times. But he was open about his lack of information to form an effective hypothesis. For example, Spock would respond “I simply do not have enough data to form an opinion”, to Kirk’s “Opinion, Mr. Spock?” question. Kirk would then follow up with “Speculation, Mr. Spock.”.

2) Do not mix emotions with your hypothesis. In other words, try to eliminate or minimize confirmation bias. This was what separated Spock from Bones in the show.

3) Always have an open mind. Spock always remarked “Fascinating” anytime he came across something new. This also tells us to minimize our confirmation bias.

4) Look for patterns to form your hypothesis. After all, that is the role of a Science Officer.

5) Try to think rationally. Spock put a lot of emphasis on logic.

6) Always be abreast with the latest in your field. This was essential for Spock as a Science Officer. Always keep on learning.

7) Things are not always black and white. Spock learned this from Kirk. Kirk was always willing to challenge the status quo.

8) Improbable things can happen. As Spock said “It would be illogical to assume all conditions remain stable.” With enough iterations, even highly unlikely events can happen.

Thank you and Good Bye, dear Leonard Nimoy.

Keep on learning…