Ever Play 20 Questions?

When you were a kid did you ever play 20 questions? It was a fun game to help pass the time. It basically worked by everyone agreeing on a topic (person, thing, activity, etc.) One person would pick something based on the topic. Everyone else playing the game would ask the person questions for a yes or no answer. A few years ago, an electronic game of the same name, and played the same way was a hit in the marketplace as a holiday gift.

Today, I promised you forests of decision trees, and here I am talking about games. The neat thing is, the 20 questions game is the same decision matrix which is used in the decision tree. You ask a series of questions for which there can only be a yes or no answer. You do need to verify the answers as you go. This, though, is often the easiest, and smartest way to discover root cause, or help you decide on a course of action.

If you look at the trees, each junction has two branches. A red branch which we will call the ‘No’ branch, and, a green branch which we will call the ‘Yes’ branch. It is always good to draw your decision tree as you go.

You can do this in your notebook, on a whiteboard, on your computer, on a tablet, or on your smartphone, depending on what type of software you have loaded. I like to put mine either in my tablet or in my notebook so I can refer to the decision tree later.

Remember, a no is not always the end of a line of questioning. You can explore a no route, although it is often easier and more correct to follow the yes trail. By doing so, you stay on a positive path. If you do this, ask the questions in a way that yes leads you on, and no helps you to eliminate something. In that case, and it is the case I recommend, your tree will look like the one on the right above.

Let’s run a practice decision tree just to test one out. This is something that happened to me last night, and although I did not draw the decision tree at the time, these are the steps I took.

Last night the pencil to my iPad did not work, I was frustrated. It cost hundred dollars, and I was in no mood, nor prepared to buy another one. So this means I had to figure out why and make the pencil work again. This decision tree will be the one on the right, not the forest on the left.

  1. Is the pencil not working properly? Yes, not working
  2. Is the pencil charged? Yes (I charged the pencil for 15 minutes to ensure it was charged.)
  3. Is the charge port working? Yes (I could charge the iPad)
  4. Does charging the pencil external to the iPad work? No (tried it, this means it’s not the charging port)
  5. Is there an explanation in the pencil guide online? Yes (I followed the instructions)
  6. Does the pencil now work? Yes

I learned new things last night. I also learned not to be the cliché of the guy who reads the instructions only as the last step. Next time, I will move reading the instructions further up the list.

Whether I do it consciously or subconsciously, I like the decision trees.

 

 

 

 

 

Not Planning Forsakes Goals

 

When you make your plans and set up your timelines, start with who and what is most important to you. Then you have to think and make plans for what it will take to sustain those people and things which are most important to you.

Make your plans synchronize to the movement of life. Those plans must meld with the time, the seasons, the phases of our lives, and our trek towards our goals and objectives. And while doing this, understanding that no matter how perfectly we develop these plans and goals, nothing is guaranteed. At the same time understanding that not planning forsakes those goals to the whims and desires of everyone and everything else. Planning and goal setting is essential.

Last week the blog spoke on gathering your lists and data and knowing where you were. This week we will look at identifying where we want to be how we want to get there and what and even more important who we take with us along the way.

The first question is, “What I want to be when I grow up?” If you’re in high school, this is a very good question. If you are in college, this is an excellent question. If you’re in your mid-20s and tired of service level jobs, this is a most needed question. In your 40s this is a mandatory question and believe it or not between 55 and 65 this is a vital question. These questions at each step of our life help to hone and know where we are and where we want to be. If you are not sure of your goals, how will you know when you get there?

For today, please think about what you would like to do in the future. At this point don’t worry about money, education or other items. Think about what you like, what you think you would enjoy doing, and how that supports not only you but those people and things most important to you, and write it down.

Tomorrow we will start more exercises and have a lot more fun. And hopefully, I will have good news about a reconditioned website

Never Stop Learning

Today more than ever it is vital to be a continuous learner and stay up with the times. Some people believe that they did all their learning in school. Other people continue to take classes after college, and believe these courses supplement and suffice for their learning. And, others never stop asking questions and seeking answers.

Today I want to give you a few tricks to being a continuous learner and give you some suggestions that I hope will help.

The first and most important thing we have to do as continuous learners is to admit that we don’t know everything. If we don’t do step one, we will never do any of the rest because we will believe we know it all.

The second thing we do is to ask why. In Six Sigma, we are trained to ask why until we can go no further down the path of gathering information. Normally this step is called the ‘Five Whys.’ You ask a question. Find out an answer. Ask why. Find out another answer. Ask why, and continue until there is nothing to ask why about any longer.  Finding the answer will initiate research. Research is where you learn.

Part of being a continuous learner is keeping up with what you already knew, and the new changes in those fields. Another part of continuous learning is staying up with new knowledge and new technology. Everything is changing faster and faster these days.

There is an excellent book on the change that is called ‘Who Moved My Cheese.’ I highly recommend that if you haven’t had a chance to read it yet that you do so. It is a fast read, yet it is very interesting and a guide on accepting change.

So why would I say that it is very important to keep up with new ideas and new discoveries? The reason is, we keep up with new technologies or, we are left with the technologies that we know. Whether its books from the library, magazines, snail mail, or other technologies. What happens is, as you give up on technology and new ways of doing things, your level of current knowledge starts to fall by the wayside. If most items are written for a blog, or a website, or an e-book, and you’re not reading those, how do you keep up?

I love to read books. Real, hardcover books. When somebody hands me a handwritten note or sends me a thank you card which they wrote out themselves, it tells me that they took enough time and cared enough to make it personal. I still have a landline phone in my house. Yet I also have a blog on the web. I have two websites one is not up at the moment, a training site for my courses. A delivery system which delivers my blogs weekly and E-newspaper that goes up monthly and other wonderful things. I’m only 63 it’s way too young for me to give up and start ignoring technology.