Between Algebra and Geometry

August 2, 2009

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 Sigma. 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 prefer 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 do 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.

This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. fidel

    thanks francis

  2. Roland Abuan

    Thanks bro!

    …on a lighter note, i have heard a lot of people saying… ” OK lang magtanong basta ‘wag lang Math…” 🙂

    Thanks+Best regards

  3. gEekia

    I thought that the right side of the brain is the creative side and the left logic?

  4. vj ercia

    Excellent!! can you relate this to a service oriented business?

  5. grace nicolas

    Toyota is still the leading innovator today and thanks for the help of an american name “DEMING. then the americans realized the importance and effectiveness of DEMINGS 14 points. Today Quality refers not only about the customer satisfaction but also the satisfaction of the manufacturer which starts from the raw materials up to the finish products.

  6. Paul Garilao

    Interesting. I would love to study my geometry again

  7. Jeffrey

    I better get my mice working on some excel sheet than talking to my colleges about some issues at work. It’s a groundbreaking revelation for me. Thanks for waking me up. Got to go to work now. ;P

  8. Kurt Dabalos

    Wow… I like your new webpage Bro! It has now a personal touch! 🙂
    Thank you for letting us pick your brain often here. God bless you always. We love you. (Me and my wife. Even if we haven’t seen you at all… But have read many of your books though).

  9. As a BS Mathematics graduate, I love math BUT only if I can see its applications in the real world. We have a lot of math subjects before at Ateneo but a lot of them, I wasn’t able to see its applications in the real world.

    With regards to this post Francis, I do believe that creativity is definitely the path to becoming successful. It only takes a great idea and implementation of that idea in order for one to become successful.

    In math, there are a lot of possible solutions to only one problem. BUT there is always one answer. It’s how creative your solution is in arriving in that one math problem.

  10. Karen Israel

    Honestly speaking, I really do not like Math not until our Math teacher in high school introduce it to us with a different approach. He is Sir Rosales and he would always boast of Mr. Kobayashi, a student before in City High who’s not so good at Math but who excels now and is currently studying in UP Diliman.

    Our teacher would always tell us the application of mathematics into our real life. I thank him very much but I think his antidote is not that effective on me unlike Kobayashi’s.

    Right now, even though I have encountered Calculus already, thank heavens that we’re back to basic! It still gives me shiver…’phew!’

  11. Karen Israel

    Honestly speaking, I really do not like Math not until our Math teacher in 3rd year high school introduce it to us in a different approach. He is always bragging of the application of Math into our real lives. He told us that he had a student before who was not so good in Math but today is now excelling in UP Diliman because of his so called words of wisdom and inspiration.

    Well, I don’t think that his antidote healed my “no to math” mentality. Maybe it somewhat cured a part of it but a large part of it remains untreated.

    He said that Math is the easiest subject to learn. I don’t think so! While typing, I remember myself reading my published article in our school paper about the importance of Math in the society.

    Thank heavens! We’re back to basic now. I have hard time studying our advance lessons in Calculus when I was in high school. I have taken Optometry…less Math! What a relief!

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