Because you have a hammer don’t go searching for a nail, blue ocean strategy, data, Engineer, financial models, frameworks, information, innovation, management consulting, melt down, myopic thinking, numbers, old habits die hard, personality trait, Possibility thinking, Problem quantification, problem solving, Prof Boman Moradian, Prof Harkant Mankad, Professor Tomas Lopez, qualitative measure, questioning assumptions, six sigma, technical details, typical attribute
Every problem is a nail… if you only have hammer in your tool box!
In a class of Prof Moradian we were learning about a model, a model which had two dimensions. Each axis has ‘Low’ and ‘High’ as the extremes. I have learnt that for few thing quantification is not necessary, ok! When I saw this combination of ‘Low’ and ‘High’, I understood it is a qualitative measure. I waited for two minutes (a long duration for struggle in mind), at last a typical attribute of a classic personality came out.
“Sir, how do I define a number is ‘Low’ or ‘High’ on this model and on the scale?”
I took two minutes because I struggled to put this in my mind – ‘do not try to quantify everything’. I was thinking quantify or not to quantify? It was equally a struggle for Prof Lopez to teach me – don’t try quantification of everything. Old habits die hard! Six Sigma taught me to be data centric and this struggle has always been in mind – clarity with data or instinct with less or no data (I worked as TRIZ/Innovation consultant). Seemingly two different approach six sigma data centric and innovation instinct based.
I knew it is qualitative, and Prof Mordian said – ‘Pravin, it is not necessary to quantify this measure, come out of the engineering mind’. To save my face I can say I was just questioning my assumptions, you may check possibility thinking and questioning assumptions blog.
Let me come to the “classic personality” type. Personally, this incident was making the same mistake (of course learning from that too). The trait I want to highlight here is ‘engineerish’ e.g. engineer and mathematician type thinking. What else can you expect from an engineer – numbers, data, technical details and much more concrete information?
Here, I came up with few future blog ideas of Blue ocean strategy, frameworks and problem solving. I will try to cover them in future. As I wrote in my introductory blog, not necessarily every blog entry will be on relation between Business and the Buddha. I will not offer correlation here, though I can do that. For a change I would quote a real life example which many of us are suffering from –
Dr Mankad taught us in class of Macroeconomics that – few bright engineers turned MBAs have created many models e.g. financial models that ‘quantified rationality/irrationality’ which became one of the worst problems and resulted in the melt down.
So, I write here a cliché of many management consultants – Every problem is a nail… if you only have hammer in your tool box! I also encountered it many a times. It is occasionally a struggle to pull people out of their thought process and make them realize that – some problems are not nails. Our myopic thinking can be summarized in (again a cliché) joke to explain the issue –
Once mechanical, Electrical, Chemical and Computer science engineers were traveling in a car. Suddenly the car stopped and everyone was puzzled. Mechanical Engineer suggested that that there is some problem with the engine. Electrical Engineer suggested that it is due to the fault in ignition system. Chemical engineer said “no-no car was making some strange knocking and the problem was with the fuel.” Suddenly the computer science Engineer intervened and said “I think we need to go out and then come in the car (log out and log in).”
The message is …
“Every problem is a nail… if you only have hammer in your tool box!”
And the lesson – “Because you have a hammer, don’t go searching for a nail”!!