I originally published this entry in December 2007. I’ve been thinking about some of this again, and might just have to post an update.
They say that Wayne Gretzky just saw the game differently. Jamie and I were talking about this some time ago, and I found it very interesting. It all started during a discussion about which viewpoint would make me more of an Arrogant Bastard.
Option 1)Nearly anybody can do what I have done.
Option 2)Not everybody can do what I have done.
For the record, I’ve been wildly successful, particularly for someone with no edumacation. Raised in suburbia with reasonable schools from third grade on, I was a perpetually unchallenged, academically lazy kid that really had no interest in continuing my education. But, if you listen to the “people that matter” these days, they seem to fill the kids with fear that if you don’t get a bachelor’s or master’s degree, you’re going to be flipping burgers (and that’s only because the drive through order taker is going to be at a call center in Malaysia).
But, I challenge anybody to tell me why most people couldn’t have done what I’ve done. I consider myself an intelligent guy, but I’ve had no formal education. I’m firmly of the belief that it’s more important to understand how you look at the world (or how you WANT to look at the world).
Try to figure out WHY
This basic intellectual exercise helps you understand the purpose of this particular piece in the larger picture. A basic part of troubleshooting, you need to understand the process.
You can use this exercise for almost everything you encounter.
When I was 7 years old or so, I told my dad that the turn signal should be pushed down for left turns, and up for right turns, because of the direction that the wheel is going to be turned.
When I go to a fast food restaurant with slow service or cold food, I think about a mechanism that could help them improve their data modeling to better understand what kind of demand they have for their food.
When my in laws purchased a small town hardware store, I thought about a solution to help them manage their inventory, so that they would be able to assign a dollar figure to the item as “shelf rent”, if you will. There are some things that a hardware store needs to have on hand to maintain credibility, but you don’t want to stock much inventory that you’re not going to be able to rapidly turn. This system will help ensure that the pricing is set appropriately for every item, helping to ensure that the organization doesn’t lose money as a result of poor inventory practices.
I knew that system would never be used. Really now…a hardware store in a town 300 is going to need that kind of sophistication? Wal-Mart may have something that ultimately delivers similar results. Maybe I should’ve talked to Meijer. Large enough to recognize the problem but maybe not so large that they have the technology resources at hand to develop something in house.
But that kind of attention to process is what I’ve found has empowered my potential. Think about the desired result. Think about the trigger. And think about how to get there from here.
Why can’t that kind of attention to process be taught? I’ve talked to a number of people that think that think that it can’t be taught. Why? I’m an intelligent guy, but not superlatively so. Education people think about the learning process all the time, so why can’t we teach people to understand the process of process?