Friday, July 2, 2010

FOLLOWING THROUGH, by Konosuke Matsushita, founder of Panasonic

I have found the following excellent piece of advice by way of analogy in the 'Japan Close Up' [March 2010] magazine passed on to me by my younger brother.

"A spacecraft is launched, heading for the moon. With a roar and trailed by the rocket's plume, it shoots up high into the sky, and before we know it disappears into the distance far out of sight. Various devices, however keep track of its flight, enabling the launchers to observe it constantly until it reaches the moon. thousands. tens-of-thousands of kilometers away.

Every step of the flight is tracked and observed.

Indeed, the tracking, the results, are all part of the significance of a space flight. If it were not tracked, the event would have no meaning. To launch a spacecraft off into outer space without a trace would be nothing but useless squandering of money.

The same is true in society and human affairs. People order others to perform some task. They give directions, request things to be done. But it is meaningless if they simply send off orders, issue commands, and make requests without following up on them, and the results would be minimal.

Wherever orders are issued, they should be followed up on. Everything should be checked back on, made responsible, reported on. Those who order work to be done are responsible for making sure, no matter what it takes, that it has in fact been completed.

Follow-up is neither easy for those who have been put to work nor for those who have to do the follow-up.

More care may be needed even than those who track a rocket's flight, and more perseverance.

Both those who do the follow-up and those who are followed-up on must cultivate the resolve and the courage to resist the tendency to leave things unresolved and unfinished."

I recall vividly a simple but powerful experiment in demonstrating the power of "following through" by Patricia Danielson, co-developer of the PhotoReading technology during the early nineties, when I had attended the debut 4-day course conducted by her in Singapore. It was done on the last day as part of the graduating ceremony.

Each participant was given a raw potato & a drinking straw. We were asked to push the straw through the potato. It was an impossible task.

Then she instructed all of us to follow her. She picked up the raw potato with her stretched-out left-hand, holding the potato only with her index finger & thumb.

Grasping the drinking straw in the palm of her right-hand, with the thumb on one end of the straw so as to trap a column of air, she swung in a consistently circular motion, as if readying herself to throw a base ball.

As she muttered "following through", & still swinging relentlessly, she pushed the potato into the trajectory path of the straw. The straw punched through the eye of the potato effortlessly.

Every participant then replicated her motion, & all of us succeeded in punching through the potato with the drinking straw.

For me, it was a memorable experience in understanding the power of "following through".

In a nut shell, the most valuable lesson I got out of the experiment is that, success in most endeavours, be it PhotoReading or otherwise, is just a matter of "following through", besides applying the right strategy & undertaking the planned execution.

Thanks to my sensei Patricia. [She was the one right in the centre, kneeling on the floor. I was standing behind her. Catherine was standing on the right of the photo, which captured the participants of one of the PhotoReading classes on the last day.]

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