What We Can All Learn From the Rubik’s Cube

Jennifer Lewis Priestley, Ph.D.FLOCK Notes Leave a Comment

Recently, our CEO Michael Flock, gave each of his employees a Rubik’s Cube. The deceptively innocuous “toy” sits on the corner of my desk and mocks me – I am sure that at one point in my childhood, I could solve this puzzle, but recently, my attempts have been in vain. Even after watching endless YouTube videos of young people 20 (ok…40) years younger than me completing the cube in seconds, my results could be summarized as #fail.

Michael frequently refers to the cube as a representation of executive decision making and the challenges of solving business problems with multiple (sometimes competing) dimensions. Solving the cube has taught me several lessons about executive decision making:

    1. Get organized. It’s tempting to start twisting the cube. There are over 43 quintillion1 possible solutions – only one is right. Starting a problem-solving exercise – big or small – without a thoughtfully considered strategy is a fool’s errand.

    2. Don’t chase stickers. The “cubies” in a Rubik’s Cube are all integrated. Some have three stickers (corners), two stickers (edges) or one sticker (centers). If you turn a face of the cube to facilitate the movement of only one color of stickers, you may successfully complete one face, but will likely not “solve the cube”. Management teams are like the faces of the cube; if I start twisting my team to facilitate our objectives without consideration for the other functional areas, solutions to the larger challenges faced by our CEO – who is trying to optimize a combination of financial capital, technology, human capital, and customer requirements – will never be found.

    3. Sometimes you have to go backward to make advances forward. It is counter-intuitive to “undo” a partially solved cube. But frequently, I found that to relocate a square to the right location, I had to undo several moves. As a strategist, our CEO is very good at seeing several moves in advance – which may require that one area (my area) may have to take a step back for the whole of the organization to take two steps forward.

    4. There is no crying in baseball (or cubing). Working through a Rubik’s Cube requires patience, tenacity, discipline, and above all humility. Giving the employees across his organization Rubik’s Cubes was a reminder from our CEO that all four are critical for our collective success.

For more information about FLOCK Specialty Finance, contact Jennifer Lewis Priestley, CDO (jpriestley@flockfinance.com)

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