Rabbi Haim of Romshishok was an itinerant preacher. He traveled from town to town delivering religious sermons that stressed the importance of respect for one’s fellow man. He often began his talks with the following story:
“I once ascended to the firmaments. I first went to see Hell and the sight was horrifying. Row after row of tables were laden with platters of sumptuous … [ Read more ]
You don’t necessarily need an outsider to provide an outside perspective, however. Occasionally a creative, clear-headed insider can break free of both his company’s and his own preconceptions by adopting a novel point of view.
This was demonstrated by Andy Grove in 1985, when he and his boss, Gordon Moore, were fighting what appeared to be a losing battle against an impossible business dilemma. In … [ Read more ]
There’s a story that’s going around about the janitor at Carnegie Hall who had been there for 20 years. He’s 45 years old. He was cleaning up the restroom, and a guy in a business suit went up to him and said, ‘You seem to be an intelligent fellow. For 20 years you’ve been cleaning the toilets. Why don’t you do something with your life … [ Read more ]
In 2005, the National Basketball Association’s Houston Rockets were looking for a talented player to add to their roster. The usual scouting reports and analyses delivered a list of names. Some of them were unavailable or too expensive, and others did not seem like the right ft for the team.
Then, using advanced analytics capabilities, the Rockets’ general manager identified a player named … [ Read more ]
In 1945 the Raytheon Company faced a tremendous demand for magnetron tubes to power the new radar system used to detect enemy aircraft. One day when a Raytheon engineer named Percy L. Spencer stepped too close to a magnetron tube, he noticed that the chocolate bar in his pocket had melted.
Other engineers had noticed the same thing, but didn’t give it much thought. Spencer, on … [ Read more ]
The EOQ formula dates back to the Industrial Revolution and a 1913 article by Ford Whitman Harris, a self-trained engineer at Westinghouse Electric Company, in Factory: The Magazine of Management, a relic of another era. The article showed how to balance the fixed cost of ordering or producing a batch of goods with the cost of carrying the inventory between order periods. Graphically displayed with … [ Read more ]
A fable from the East tells of an emperor and a zen monk who came face to face for the first time. The emperor ruled over a kingdom that practiced Buddhism and the monk was eager to meet with him, looking forward to sharing tales of enlightenment.
But when they met, the emperor decided to test the monk by saying to him: “When you look at … [ Read more ]
An ancient Chinese story, retold by Phil Jackson, coach of the phenomenally successful Chicago Bulls basketball team, makes this point rather more emphatically. In the 3rd century BC, the Chinese emperor Liu Bang celebrated his consolidation of China with a banquet, where he sat surrounded by his nobles and military and political experts. Since Liu Bang was neither noble by birth nor an expert in … [ Read more ]
A sales manager was deciding which of two salespeople to recruit. Passing over a ball point pen, he said, “Sell me one of these.” The first salesperson took the pen, examined it and said, “This is a very good pen. You will note the transparent barrel which indicates the color of the ink as well as showing when it is about to run out. There … [ Read more ]
The field of neuroscience has been especially helpful in expanding our understanding of the role of emotions in decision-making. Research shows that while emotions are essential for decision-making, they can also lead us far astray in ways we may not anticipate. Antonio Damasio, one of the world’s leading researchers in neuroscience, helped design a seminal experiment that assessed the role of emotions in decision-making. It … [ Read more ]