@MythBusters @CiscoLive: The Power of Non-Linear Thinking

Erik Rudin

blog-201206-mythbusters-knock-off-everyones-socks-at-ciscoliveAfter a mind-blowing week at Cisco Live, with fresh announcements, intense collaboration with Cisco customers, and non-stop fun in San Diego, I and a few thousand other diehard Cisco Live attendees rallied for an awesome locknote session by MythBusters Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman.

I had expected to see a lot of live action with the MythBusters team on stage – something with explosions, bullets, and crashes. Our socks were knocked off, but not by anything detonated. Instead the crowd of techies was treated to a real conversation about the show, plus some rare video clips.

Adam and Jamie talked with Carlos Dominguez of Cisco about the origin of the MythBusters show and the lessons they’ve learned from testing all those crazy myths. If you are an avid watcher of the MythBusters, you already know that their goal is push the limits of things beyond their breaking point.

But at heart, both Adam and Jamie are builders, not busters. (The blowing up of things is just a side effect of their mutual curiosity.) And sweet harmony, apparently, is not a given in fruitful collaboration.

According to Adam, working through their conflicts with each other has been the basis of their successful partnership. The real learning, said Jamie, doesn’t come from the initial project research. It actually comes from the journey of the project.

Is easier to swim in syrup than water? While figuring out the answer to the first question, Jamie and Adam learned that it’s not possible to provide an analog measurement of viscosity. What was the Jamie and Adam’s favorite episode? The lead balloon – specifically, the leaded hot air balloon.

The process of building a flying machine out of 30 pounds of lead provided the education. “The real power is in non-linear thinking,” said Jamie. Working without rigid structure and letting your creative side explore alternatives can net the most valuable lessons and findings, he said.

Outside of the ramifications for syrup swimming, I see parallels in the world of IT. Set your sights on a problem, and explore the findings during the journey to find real innovation. Did you know that in 20 years of knowing each other, Adam and Jamie have never had a private dinner together? I’m not sure what I learned from that, except that perhaps business relationships have the most staying power over the long haul.

Or perhaps the strongest friendships are based on mutual interests, not on social mores. Or perhaps after a hard day of pushing the limits, all you want to do is go home. Along with the education and exposure to what makes the MythBusters tick, the Cisco Live crowd was treated to a couple of videos never seen on TV.

Let’s just say that one topic from must-not-see TV had something to do with flatulence and flame (a very popular myth requested by viewers). We were also treated to six minutes of video on the best explosions ever. My vote is for the 15-second hang time of an exploded water heater! The MythBusters are genuine guys, and those of us interested in transformational technology need to learn from them.

Use non-linear thinking when working through the next big project. Pay attention, because the innovation may come from the journey and not the planning. Find out how ScienceLogic is driving transformational technology for IT operations management.

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  • Erik Rudin

    Thanks for all the Re-tweets everyone! Follow me on Twitter @erikrudin and @ScienceLogic

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