That Decisive Qualitative Edge

So I am reading this book called “Israel’s Edge.”


It’s basically about their elite genius program, “Talpiot,” in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).  


Each year the program accepts only the top 50 out of 100,000 graduating high school students for a 9-year commitment. 


There are the mathematicians, physicists, and computer scientists that help give the IDF the cutting edge in military R&D and other innovations. 


These are the brain trust behind Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system and Trophy tank active protection system and many more both military and industrial advances. 


This program was born after the almost disastrous 1973 Yom Kippur War where Israel misjudged the intelligence and the advances in their enemies capability and almost lost the war. 


I like the philosophy of General Yitzhak Ben-Israel who understands the importance of challenging the status quo and looking differently at critical situations and avoiding confirmation bias:

My method is not to look for supporting evidence. I look for refuting evidence…you see one white swan, then a second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth. You still can’t conclude that all swans are white…nature builds us to be inductive, to make generalizations from past experience…this standard way of scientific thinking can be limiting and destructive.”

Instead we must be continuously curious, think outside the box, be creative, and innovate. 


Especially, where we don’t have a quantitative advantage like with Israel surrounded by many enemies, then we must rely on a very sharp qualitative edge. 😉


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 

Think Back, Think Forward

So yesterday I attended a colleagues’s leadership program graduation. 


There were about 20 people in the graduating class. 


One thing that I liked was that when they called up each person to shake hands and get their diplomas, each graduate was given the opportunity to say a few words. 


It was amazing to me how 20 people could give a thank you, what I learned, and what I will do with it speech in 20 completely different ways. 


20 people, 20 personalities, 20 ways of thinking and saying something. 


We really are all the similar to and different from one anther at the same time!


I remember one graduate in particular.


He talked about how the leadership program challenged him, and he said:

It made me think back, and it made me think forward. 


I loved that!


This is really what learning is all about. 


Reflecting back and using that to think forward–how to apply it, how to shape it, and how to innovate from it.


Thinking forward starts with thinking back to where we came from and all the lessons learned in our lives. 


It all starts at the beginning and it goes forward from there. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Actual From Abstract

A colleague’s daughter drew this. 


At first glance, I wasn’t sure what I was looking at. 


Do you see what it is?


At first, I was thinking something a little alien perhaps. 


But there it is right in front of you.


It’s the head, ears, nose, and tusks of an elephant. 


I really like the abstractness of this art. 


All from simple circles, and voila you have an elephant. 


Look carefully at what you think you see, and let your mind put the whole picture together. 


That’s how you come to the actual from the abstract! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Breaking The Paradigm

So a colleague has this sticker (with a do not image) on their computer that says:


“But we’ve always done it that way.”


They told me a funny story about the lady that made the ham with the head and tail ends always cut off.


One day, her daughter asked, “Why mom do you make the ham with the head and tail ends always cut off?”


The mother answers and says because “My mother always made it that way!”


So they went to her mother and ask the question and they get the same answer again.


Finally, they went to her great grandmother and ask, “Why do you always make the ham with the head and tail ends cut off?”


And the old lady takes a breath, pauses, and says, “Because, we didn’t have a pan big enough to fit the whole ham!”


Just thought this was a great lesson on critical thinking and also on “asking why.”


Change can be brought about by questioning underlying assumptions and historical ways of doing things and bringing an open mind and fresh light to it. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

When You Gotta Go

Toilet.jpeg.jpg

We went hiking the trails yesterday in Maryland along Rock Creek.

And we came across this makeshift toilet in the woods. 

Surprised at all by what you see? 

Apparently, the hole in the tree wasn’t enough for someone.

They took the liberty of literally hauling a toilet seat out to the middle of the woods here and adding it to nature’s wonders. 

I suppose they must’ve really wanted that homey feeling when they take care of their business. 

Who says America’s has lost it’s creative talent?

From the big cities to the wooded suburbs, we are a nation that does our business and does it extremely well. 

Especially during election time when some politicians can be so very full of it and of themselves. 

Can anyone see why we need to reestablish leadership and competitive advantage in this country? 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Winning Move

Think_outside_the_box

My daughter sent me this amazing picture portraying how we can “think outside the box.”

How many of us would ever have envisioned this as a possible solution to this age-old children’s game?

Important lesson learned–it’s okay to think differently, be creative, even change the rules when you can get a better result.

Groupthink drives so much–toomuch–of what we do at work, politically, and more.

Often, we can do better when we question the status quo and give things a fresh look–without the colored lens on of how things should be, have always been, or need to be done.

With the huge challenges we face as a nation and globally, we need to open ourselves to new solutions to old and emerging problems.

Like a simple tick-tac-toe game, the winning move may simply be right outside the box. 😉

(Source Photo: LOL Pics)