Stefan was a German boy who couldn´t wait to go sledging with this dad and family in Austria when he was young. Every year before Christmas they went for 2 weekends to Austria to go sledging.
Stefan loved the way his dad maneuvered the wooden sledge downhill, without any accident! So many other sledges with kids and dads went downhill next to them, but not all arrived safely at the end of the trip, down in the valley. Many crashed or collided with others. Of course they got up again and went on. But Stefan´s dad went downhill like hell, and Stefan, sitting in front, couldn´t believe how his dad was steering the sledge without any steering wheel through this turmoil in the fresh snow.
One evening in the valley when they went to their car Stefan was very curious about how his dad was steering the sledge. “Dad, we never collide and we never crash with others going downhill, say, how do you steer this little wooden sledge? What is the trick?! I mean, if you do that with your car you can use the brakes and steer the vehicle but the sledge is just a wooden seat with 2 skids!” Stefan´s dad smiles.
“Yes, there is a trick my son. It´s my weight. I am tall and I weight a lot more than you do which is the main reason why you sit in front. Any time I want to go right I shift my weight on the right skid and when I want to go left I quickly shift my weight on the left skid. It´s like braking for a moment to steer and change direction without any steering wheel in my hands.”
“Oh, okay, and sometimes you lean over me to shift your weight in the front of the skid! With your hands!” “Yes, I do it when I need to correct my curve by braking, to slow down and avoid a crash with another sledge which suddenly shows up on our track, going downhill.” “Dad, that´s interesting.” “Yes, and pretty easy.”
When Stefan grew up he went skiing with his family but he never forgot his lessons learned. Later, when he was a dad himself, he went sledging with his kids. During the early 1990s he was an engineer working for a big German Automotive Supplier Company in Stuttgart, in the development department for customer Mercedes.
“Stefan, we need something special for the new Mercedes S-class. Something no other car producer offers. We would like to be FIRST to offer our customers a car which avoids almost every possible accident! What do you think?” Stefan was sitting in a meeting with Daimler and his team, brainstorming when someone from the Daimler team challenged them with this idea and tough request. “What´s the main source of all accidents?” Stefan asks. “Centrifugation,” is one quick answer. “Back in the 60´s it was called skidding !” Is another comment from another team member …… and then something clicked in Stefan´s brain.
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I honestly have no idea if this is how the Electronic Stability Program (the ESP, a trademark by Daimler, but originally a Bosch development for Daimler) was born – but it is pretty obvious. The big challenge was to create and build this “shifting weight” idea into a smart brake system, run by a 100% faultless IT-program. In 1995 it was signed as a patent.
( If you are further interested in how it actively works in your own car, check “wikipedia” for more information. BTW: Insurance companies love it! )
But, why do I write about it for you, as a decision maker?
Let me give you a hint: some of us decide to accept a tough request. Others decide to not accept a tough request and maybe say it´s impossible. Some of us decide to believe in themselves and in their ideas. Others decide to not believe in themselves and hand the challenge over to the next person.
But what´s the difference between the two of them? –>> It´s the mixture of experience and its resulting self-assurance. In the meantime at BMW in Munich, special talented employees (leaders) rule the internal decision making stage inter-divisional.
….and now I am wishing you, my dear reader, a great trip and/or party into the New Year!! See you again in 2015 ……
BE A DECISION MAKER. BECOME OUTSTANDING.
rita jaskolla – Leadership Architect –