A recent article we came across makes a clever association between what happens when you jump out of an airplane and the adaptability required of today’s business owner. We thought it worth sharing with you today.
Morten Middlefart (yes, that’s his real name, and yes, he probably gets that a lot…) is CTO of Targit, a company specializing in Business Intelligence (or “BI”) tools. He also holds an MBA and a couple of Ph. D.’s. He’s also a certified skydiver. His official site, by the way, is here.
Morten notes that jumping out of an airplane can be stressful. (Who knew?) In fact, after interviewing hundreds of skydivers he learned that the brain adapt in two distinct ways. The first is entirely subconscious. About 75% of skydivers have that “falling dream” before they ever jump out of a plane. It’s the recurring dream of falling from a great height but awakening just before hitting the ground. It’s not a dream based on experience, but something – the fear of falling, actually – programmed into our brains since birth. It’s an instinctual fear, one of two that all humans possess (the other being very loud noises).
But the more a person skydives, that dream changes, and in time one no longer terminates the dream at the point of impact. Other dreams, like malfunctioning parachutes, invade – but the dreamer always lands safely. With a little experience, it appears, the brain adapts from experience to how it conceptualizes falling.
The second adaptation, he found, is that first-time skydivers almost always black out the first few seconds of their jump. But on the second jump, and thereafter, they don’t. Why is that?
According to Dr. Middlefart, the human brain is more aware of everything going on around it. By the second jump, it is already constructing a new reality based on those previous sensory inputs. In other words, it adjusts! The point is, we have, he notes “the power to reprogram our minds extremely quickly.”
So, while we can’t out-calculate or out-remember a computer, we can “out-adapt” one. You can’t run a business through a series of processes that never change. Even McDonalds, the king of repeatability, changes it up from time to time. The author points out that “there must be heart, thought, and constant adaptation.”
Put another way, a human can lose one deal and learn from it, whereas relying too heavily on computer processes may require you to lose a thousand deals before the machine has enough statistical volume to know why – let alone, do something about it.
Where the computer can help is in providing the data – and the analytical tools to make sense of the patterns. The computer can present scenarios, cases, paths (or data trends) worth following. But, rather happily one supposes, it still takes human intelligence, human intuition, human adaptability and human thought to draw out the appropriate conclusions quickly and fruitfully.
It’s comforting to know that while BI has its place, it still takes people like you and me to make sense of it all, to use it, and to make our businesses that much better as a result.