Friday, August 7, 2009 - inspiring excellence : BETWEEN ALGEBRA AND GEOMETRY

Between Algebra & Geometry
By Francis Kong

I remember the battle cry of the 80’s and the 90’s was: “Quality!”

Consultants were busy and excited in bringing out cases after cases of Japanese businesses that modeled quality of which Toyota reigned king!

Even Filipinos and American executives engaged themselves in corporate babble using Japanese words and terminologies of which the word “Kaizen” was chief. Quality was the buzzword. You may be familiar with other words like TQM. Six Zigma. Zero Defect.

Quality rules.

And then something happened. Computers and technology came into the picture. Suddenly all the management programs become commoditized. Companies with money buy the same program which in effect led to consumer’s benefits as products and services improved dramatically. However, quality now no longer becomes cutting edge. Quality now becomes minimum entry requirement in order to survive the highly global competitive world.

Suddenly the business world realizes that quality alone will not give them the competitive edge. Enters creativity. Design. Innovation. And quite frankly, while engineers take over the world of a “Quality” centered environment, it is a rare occurrence to have engineers involve themselves with the creative part of business. The former is extremely right brained while the latter requires a lot of left brain activity.

Creativity today comes into play.

The important question we need to ask today is “How can I be creative?”

Creativity doesn't mean being a Picasso or da Vinci. Today business people sigh and say, “But there can only be one creative genius like Steve Jobs.” Agree. But you and I need to realize that every day, everyone can be a little creative is simple and small ways.

A receptionist who discovers time-saving ways to send out communications to people from different departments is using as much creativity as the head of research and development of a medical facility who has discovered the cure for the famous Swine flu epidemic.

I hated math. Still do today but I love fiddling around with words and crafting them into thoughts and ideas. I read a lot. And now that I have Kindle – that beautiful Book Reader invention from Amazon it has inspired me to read a lot more. But once in a while I would look into my old files tucked into the deep recesses of my computer archives and I was fascinated with a study that was conducted in the 90’s found in an old book entitled “Wisdom Inc.”

The president and founder of a market research firm uses mathematics to illustrate creativity. In fact he prefers employees who are better at geometry than algebra. This marketing research executive says algebra does not have much to do with creativity. But geometry does. “Creativity has to come from the paradigm from which you look at business. Geometry has more to do with spatial perception.” And the same executive says “I don't look for geometry geniuses, but art directors and other creative people who tend to be good at geometry."

One boss defines a creative employee as someone able to think beyond the obvious. "If I tell her to go from A to B to C in order to reach D, she's liable to go from A to it" and then back to her destination. That's very valuable, because people who manage businesses are often prisoners of their own reality. The creative person gives you another lens to look through, which energizes the dialogue, enriches the process, and makes the product better.''

Here is my take on this.

Initiative always precedes innovation and creativity.

We need to inspire, challenge, motivate and engage our people into taking the initiative to be creative. To give more ideas. To challenge the norm. To leave their comfort zones and not to think out of the box but to get out of the box and so some thinking.

God is the Creator and the Master Designer. It’s always laziness that usually puts on a lid on what man can accomplish. I wish I had taken geometry seriously. Every time there was a test, the only items I got right was the “Given” and it frustrated my math teachers. Be creative and be innovative as this will be the competitive edge you will have in these exciting times.

1 comment:

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