Have you ever been to Raleigh Executive Airport? I have not, but as you can see in this picture, I’ve plotted a course to get there.
As noted last week, the fourth of the 7 observations about vision was that “vision sometimes sees the unseen.” If I was planning a cross country flight from Greensboro to Raleigh Executive, but I’ve never been there, how would I describe the “unknown”–the never before seen destination? What characteristics would I use to describe it?
A vision is a lot like a destination or a finish line. In leadership and aerospace, it’s more like an unexplored land. We get the delightful joy of discovering it.
Here are 4 steps to describe the destination.
1. Big to Little
If you asked me where I was from, I might say “North Carolina.” You might follow up with “what part?” and I would reply “near Greensboro.” I am describing my location first on a large scale. “North Carolina” is precise and exact, but the resolution of this characteristic is not fine at all–it’s big, not little, and you could find it on a big map of the United States or even the world, for example.
2. General to Specific
KLHV is East of Greensboro. ”East” is a direction word used in generalities. “Heading 084 degrees” is more specific–that’s the course from Greensboro to the first VFR waypoint.
3. Appropriate Level of Detail
In casual conversation with other pilots, I might mention that the airport is northeast of Raleigh–for me and the rest of the flight crew, more detail is required. I will cross I-85 just north of Raleigh, in the town of Creedmore, then fly course 119 degrees for 21 nm. As I get closer, the details I use to describe my location will change, will become more detailed and descriptive. But I won’t tell you all of the road intersections in a five mile radius until I get close to the destination. You’re too likely to forget.
4. Repeat (as required)
The above three steps scale very nicely. They work at the organizational, strategic level. They work departmentally, at an operational level, and they work in the trenches, day-in and day-out, at the tactical level. That’s certainly a bonus.
Incidentally, I’ve been thinking a lot about long distance running and training for another half-marathon. All of these steps apply to developing a training plan.
One last thought. Statistics are characteristics of data. They are used to describe data. Can you see where “I’m going” with the analogy above?
Now I need your opinion: Which title format do you like–the one above or the previous one.
|ATOMs are like maps–they help us describe our destination and, therefore, help us characterize the uncertainty we face.|
Here are three ways to find out more about ATOMs (analytical tools of mathematics and statistics), like the 4 steps for describing an unknown destination above.
1. Go the ATOMs index.
2. Study chemistry.
3. Read the stuff in italics below.
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How do we find our way then, when we are exploring the unknown, blazing a trail into uncharted territory? How do we apply elementary statistical principles to transform uncertainty into decisive action? What is to prevent us from making a preposterous application of ATOMs when we deal with very complex situations, those in which our intuition fails?
These questions are not much different from those faced by Chuck Yeager before he ever broke the sound barrier or Neil Armstrong as he took that first step on the moon. Neither of these men, nor anyone around them–with hundreds or thousands of highly educated, very scientific people on these teams–knew what to expect. Or did they…?
ATOMs is a monthly column that introduces analytical tools of mathematics and statistics and illustrates their application. To read more about ATOMs, you can read Where Do We Go From Here, or view the online workbook here.