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There’s no Substitute for Knowledge

How many times have you been aboard a jet liner taking you across the country, the Pacific Ocean or to Europe and beyond? Have you ever wondered how those engines generate the power to push you back into your seat and make the aircraft take to the skies?

Dr. Albert Einstein said that everything should be made as simple as possible but not one bit simpler. So, how does that apply to contemplating the design of a jet engine? Well, it does not take an engineering degree to understand the rudimentary principle of the jet engine and thus to feel deep appreciation for the elegance of its design.The following simplification of a rather complex unit also provides a valuable teaching moment for executive decision makers.

Imagine a shaft that has a compressor on one end and a turbine on the other. The compressor compresses the cold outside air into a hot gas and forces it into a combustion chamber located between the compressor and the turbine, where fuel is injected. As a result, the mixture combusts, heat up and therefore expands thus creating thrust that exits the engine through the turbine, pushing the aircraft forward. Notice the magic of the jet engine; hot air leaving the combustion chamber drives the turbine and thereby the compressor, forcing cold air into the combustion chamber. Compressor and turbine are interdependent of each other because they are mounted on the same shaft; one cannot work without the other! However, the system needs an outside force in order to get started.

The effectiveness of decision makers at the controls of business systems or engines of our economy is no different. Here are three examples of business aspects mounted on one and the same drive shaft:

  • Leadership on one end and appreciation for the character and nature of a business system on the other.

Leadership without understanding and valuing of the business system under one’s command and control is merely trial and error. Appreciation for the system will prompt a leadership style that is most effective for the situation at hand.

  • Solving business challenges on one end and solving personal challenges on the other.

The authenticity of any solutions to a business challenge hinges upon the extent at which a decision maker grasps the root cause of the problem him/herself. Confusion about the situation at hand and therefore the cause and effect relationships of various proposed solution alternatives reduces a decision maker’s effectiveness significantly. Decisions that give a decision maker peace-of-mind tend to be better business solutions.

  • Business governance on one end and business processes on the other.

Effective governance originates from understanding the requirements of the processes under one’s command and control. Effectiveness of processes depends on how they are organized and guided or governed.

You may want to ask about that outside force to get the engine started. That force is what I call “Anticipated Outcome” or quality; it is the driving force behind you starting the business in the first place and why you keep getting at it against all odds. I bet making money is not it!

Now that we understand and appreciate that engines and businesses are singular, unique, integrated and open systems, let me end this posting with a heartfelt plea to resist the inexplicable urge of writers in forums such as LinkedIn groups for ranking everything and anything. What is it that they do not understand about the idea of “interconnectedness”? Next time, when confronted with the request to rank interconnected aspects of a business system, please ignore the question because the ensuing discussion will be like a broken pencil: POINTLESS!

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