Sunday, October 31, 2010

Odd Friends

Well, first, it has been quite awhile since my last blog post. Honestly, I wasn't very happy with the direction of the blog, and I'm still not sure of a new direction to take with it.

Today, though, I had the chance to spend a Sunday morning doing what I love to do most on a Sunday morning - drink french pressed coffee and read. (Okay, I also love to eat, and Jenn made these wonderful pumpkin pancakes. They were so fluffy!)

My reading material included Statistics for Managers Using Microsoft Excel and the book of Haggai. The stat book is for the statistics class that starts tomorrow. The book of Haggai... well, I mean who isn't ready the book of Haggai these days, right? (Actually, I recently read Habakkuk and for some reason I woke up this morning wondering about the book of Haggai. I'm not sure what the connection really is between these two books except they are close to each other in the OT - separated only by Zephaniah.)

So anyway, what could possibly be shared by a statistics book and Haggai? Well, the readings this morning both focused on priorities. Levine, Stephan, Krehbiel, and Berenson (2011) discussed the Pareto principle and referred to the "vital few" and the "trivial many" (p. 35). What does this mean? Well, the stat book provided the example of using a Pareto chart to prioritize improvement opportunities. Several improvement opportunities might exist, but the Pareto chart makes it possible to pick the "vital few" that will have the most drastic effect for the effort expended.

Haggai also deals with priorities.

Consider the text (Haggai 1:6):

"You have planted much, but have harvested little.
You eat, but never have enough.
You drink, but never have your full.
You put on clothes, but are not warm.
You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it."

This sounds like the people are spinning their wheels. They are working hard and not getting much done. They are focusing on the wrong priorities. In the text, the people have lost their number one priority, God. Maxwell (2007) writes that one of the symptoms of this incorrect prioritization is that "they felt dissatisfied in their production" (p. 1148).

The challenge is to choose the correct priorities and focus the most time on those priorities. As Maxwell writes, "It is not about working hader, but smarter" (p. 1148).
Levine, D. M., Stephan, D. F., Krehbiel, T. C., & Berenson, M. L. (2011). Statistics for managers using Microsoft Excel (6th ed.). Boston: Prentice Hall.

Maxwell, J. C. (Ed). (2007). The Maxwell leadership Bible: The New King James version (2nd ed.). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.