Friday, September 20, 2013

A First Rate Madness

Yesterday was not only Talk Like a Pirate Day.  It was my brother Jimmi's birthday.

I had a great day in Ludington, Michigan as I was able to combine my increased "More Interesting" family duties with hanging out with Jimmi and his lovely wife Kim.

Jimmi and Kubota walking on pier.  Jimmi 'splaining stuff to Kubota
We spent much time walking about town and talking.  I told him about the book I started reading, A First Rate Madness.  AFRM is based on the premise that crisis leadership is so different from steady-state leadership that it requires different leaders.  In fact, the traits that make crisis leaders effective are considered symptoms of mental illness during steady-state times.  The author performs case studies on several leaders and discusses their lives during the times of crisis (successful) and non-crisis (often dismal failure).  He also performs clinical assessments of their mental health.

One of the strengths that mentally ill bosses can bring to a crisis is "Divergent Thinking",  generating many unusual solutions to problems.

It triggered a memory of a boss Jimmi had early in his work life.  He was in his very early twenties and was a $4/hr manual labor guy.  The boss told him to go around and change out the wall sconces in a Victorian mansion-converted-to-offices building.

Mansion similar to this one
My brother dumped the circuit (turn on lights and, one-at-a-time un-screw fuses to find the circuit).  Then he started changing out the sconces.

Wall Sconce

Note that this is not work typically given to 20 year old, non-electricians.  One could even suggest that Jimmi's boss was mentally ill (or at least possessing severely impaired judgment) to give that kind of a job to an unsupervised 20 year old.

Part way through the job my brother got seriously whacked by a live wire that was wired through one of the junction boxes.

Be aware that wiring standards in the 1920s were a little more casual than today's National Electric Code.  Also, the insulation was braided fabric and vulnerable to wearing through.

My brother was stymied.  He could not dump the power to the entire building because there were four active offices that would be royally POed if the power went down.

He went to the boss and explained his dilemma.

The boss said, "Let me show you how this is done."

The boss went to the offending junction box.  He stood to the side, took a large screwdriver, laid the shaft of the screwdriver against the edge of the metal junction box and vigorously started stirring.
"There.  The stray circuit is dead.  Just stir every box before you jump in.  Make sure you swap out all the blown fuses when you are done.  I will field any calls from the other four offices.  Now hop-to-it."

And that is as fine of an example of "Divergent Thinking" as I have ever stumbled upon.

The problem is the solution to the problem.

Thanks Jimmi!

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