Calvin & Hobbes: Doing nothing

calvin-hobbes-stampWhat makes Calvin & Hobbes the greatest ever is its ability to make you laugh and identify with it. What makes it one of the great treasures is its ability to invoke emotions that you never thought you’d spend on a comic strip.

One of the many Calvin and Hobbes comic strips that I love goes like this:

Calvin diligently studies his calendar. Hobbes stands beside Calvin, full of anticipation. Calvin says: “Well, let’s check my calendar and see what our schedule is for today. Today says do nothing. So does tomorrow and every day after…all the way through the end of August.”

I can‘t honestly remember the first time I read this strip of good news! But I do remember that it made me very, very happy and I wanted to join Calvin and Hobbes on their adventure of doing nothing.

Following are two more comics about doing nothing:

Calvin-&-Hobbes-on-Doing-Nothing-01

We are always busy doing things, sometimes one should just look at things and think about things without doing things.

Calvin-&-Hobbes-on-Doing-Nothing-02

Advertisements

A Costly Mistake or a Learning Investment?

Tom Watson Jr., CEO of IBM between 1956 and 1971, was a key figure in the information revolution. Watson repeatedly demonstrated his abilities as a leader, never more so than in our first short story

Characteristic of leadership

A young executive had made some bad decisions that cost the company several million dollars. He was summoned to Watson’s office, fully expecting to be dismissed. As he entered the office, the young executive said, “I suppose after that set of mistakes you will want to fire me.” Watson was said to have replied,

“Not at all, young man, we have just spent a couple of million dollars educating you.”

Source: Edgar Schein in his book Organizational Culture and Leadership)

This story provides a strong message of support and a reminder that some of the most powerful lessons we can learn are from our so-called failures or difficult times.

Remember Edison’s famous saying: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Thomas Edison also demonstrated a great response to adversity which compliments Watson Jr’s actions. When his factory was burned down, with much of his life’s work inside, Edison said: “There is great value in disaster. All our mistakes are burned up. Thank God we can start new.”

A characteristic of leadership is to see things differently. Seeing mistakes as an investment in learning.

Finally, here are some quotes about re-defining success, perhaps by seeing it differently:

  • “Many of life’s failures are men who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” Thomas Edison
  • “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” Winston Churchill
  • “I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.”Booker T Washington
  • “He who has never made a mistake, never made a discovery.” Samuel Smiles
  • “Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.” Bill Gates
  • “I am a success today because I had a friend who believed in me and I didn’t have the heart to let him down.” Abraham Lincoln
  • “Success in management is when those you manage succeed, and the organization you work for succeeds.” Unknown

10 Office Rules

10. Never walk without a document — People with documents look like hardworking employees headed to important meetings. People with nothing in their hands look like they’re headed for the cafeteria. People with a newspaper in their hand look like they’re headed for the toilet. Above all, make sure you carry loads of stuff home with you at night, thus generating the false impression that you work longer hours than you really do.

9. Use computers to look busy — Any time you use a computer, it looks like “work” to the casual observer. You can send and receive personal e-mail, chat and have a blast without doing anything remotely related to work. These aren’t exactly the societal benefits that the proponents of the computer revolution would like to talk about, but they’re not bad either. When you get caught by your boss — and you will get caught — your best defense is to claim you’re teaching yourself to use new software, thus saving valuable training dollars.

8. Messy desk — only top management can get away with a clean desk. For the rest of us, it looks like we’re not working hard enough. Build huge piles of documents around your workspace. To the observer, last year’s work looks the same as today’s work; it’s volume that counts. Pile them high and wide. If you know somebody is coming to your cubicle, bury the document you’ll need halfway down in an existing stack and rummage for it when he/she arrives.

7. Voice mail — Never answer your phone if you have voice mail. People don’t call you just because they want to give you something for nothing — they call because they want YOU to do work for THEM. That’s no way to live. Screen all your calls through voice mail. If somebody leaves a message for you and it sounds like impending work, respond during lunch hour when you know they’re not there — it looks like you’re hardworking and conscientious even though you’re being a devious weasel.

6. Look impatient and annoyed — According to George Costanza, one should also always try to look impatient and annoyed to give off the impression that you’re always busy.

5. Leave the office late — Always leave the office late, especially when the boss is still around. You could read magazines and storybooks that you always wanted to read. Make sure you walk past the boss’ room on your way out. Send important e-mails at unearthly hours (i.e. 9:35pm, 7:05am, etc.) and during public holidays.

4. Creative sighing for effect — Sigh loudly when there are many people around, giving the impression that you are under extreme pressure.

3. Stacking strategy — It is not enough to pile lots of documents on the table. Put lots of books on the floor, etc. (thick computer manuals are the best).

2. Build vocabulary — Read up on some computer magazines and pick out all the jargon and new products. Use the phrases freely when in conversation with bosses. Remember, they don’t have to understand what you say, but you sure sound impressive.

1. MOST IMPORTANT — DON’T forward this to your boss by mistake!

Made in Japan

Apparently the Apple Co.  decided to have some of its iPhone parts manufactured in Japan as a trial project.

In the specifications, they set out that they will accept only 5 defective parts per 20,000.

When the delivery came in there was an accompanying letter.

‘We, Japanese people, had a tough time understanding American Business practices.

But the five defective parts per 20,000 have been separately manufactured and have been included in the consignment in a separate packaging clearly mentioned

‘Defective pieces as per requirement, not for use’.

Hope the products are to your satisfaction.’

Put Away The Bell Curve: We aren’t ‘Average’

Most people are below average! Human performance is often not distributed according to the famous ‘bell curve’ or ‘Gaussian’. Instead, a small number of people vastly outperform the rest. A new study shows that in 186 out of 198 groups ranging from physics professors and Grammy nominees to cricketers and swimming champions, a small group of ‘superstars’ account for much of the success of the group as a whole. That means the majority are performing below the mathematical average – or to be precise, the ‘arithmetic mean’.

This should not be depressing news, but it does mean that blindly modelling people’s behavior using a bell curve is a bad idea. So is expecting that ‘average’ means ‘typical’.

Listen the story from NPR:

http://www.npr.org/v2/?i=151860154&m=151915886&t=audio

If you want details, read the original paper – it’s free online:

Ernest O’Boyle and Herman Aguinis, The best and the rest: revisiting the norm of normality of individual performance, Personnel Psychology 65 (2012), 79–119. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1744-6570.2011.01239.x/full

Vanilla Ice Cream that puzzled General motors!!

An Interesting but True Story

Never underestimate your Clients’ Complaint, no matter how funny it might seem!

This is a real story that happened between the customer of General Motors and its Customer-Care Executive. Pls read on……

A complaint was received by the Pontiac Division of General Motors:

‘This is the second time I have written to you, and I don’t blame you for not answering me, because I sounded crazy, but it is a fact that we have a tradition in our family of Ice-Cream for dessert after dinner each night, but the kind of ice cream varies so, every night, after we’ve eaten, the whole family votes on which kind of ice cream we should have and I drive down to the store to get it. It’s also a fact that I recently purchased a new Pontiac and since then my trips to the store have created a problem.

You see, every time I buy a vanilla ice-cream, when I start back from the store my car won’t start. If I get any other kind of ice cream, the car starts just fine. I want you to know I’m serious about this question, no matter how silly it sounds “What is there about a Pontiac that makes it not start when I get vanilla ice cream, and easy to start whenever I get any other kind?” The Pontiac President was understandably skeptical about the letter, but sent an Engineer to check it out anyway.

The latter was surprised to be greeted by a successful, obviously well educated man in a fine neighborhood. He had arranged to meet the man just after dinner time, so the two hopped into the car and drove to the ice cream store. It was vanilla ice cream that night and, sure enough, after they came back to the car, it wouldn’t start.

The Engineer returned for three more nights. The first night, they got chocolate. The car started. The second night, he got strawberry. The car started. The third night he ordered vanilla. The car failed to start.

Now the engineer, being a logical man, refused to believe that this man’s car was allergic to vanilla ice cream. He arranged, therefore, to continue his visits for as long as it took to solve the problem. And toward this end he began to take notes: He jotted down all sorts of data: time of day, type of gas uses, time to drive back and forth etc.

In a short time, he had a clue: the man took less time to buy vanilla than any other flavor. Why? The answer was in the layout of the store. Vanilla, being the most popular flavor, was in a separate case at the front of the store for quick pickup. All the other flavors were kept in the back of the store at a different counter where it took considerably longer to check out the flavor.

Now, the question for the Engineer was why the car wouldn’t start when it took less time. Eureka – Time was now the problem – not the vanilla ice cream!!!! The engineer quickly came up with the answer: “vapor lock”.

It was happening every night; but the extra time taken to get the other flavors allowed the engine to cool down sufficiently to start. When the man got vanilla, the engine was still too hot for the vapor lock to dissipate.

Moral: Even crazy looking problems are sometimes real and all problems seem to be simple only when we find the solution, with cool thinking. What really matters is your attitude and your perception.

Sunday Morning Thoughts

  • When bird is alive, it eats Ants. When bird is dead, Ants eat bird.
  • Time can turn at any time, Don’t devalue anyone in life. YOU may be powerful But time is more powerful than you.
  • One tree makes one lac match sticks, but one match stick can burn one lac trees”.
  • One negative thought can burn all positive thoughts.
  • Something we should do about – Learn to Respond.
  • We react which can destroy positive thoughts and relationships before we realize.
  • Similarly, learn to Appreciate than critic everything. Criticizing everything can leave you alone.