Sunday, August 23, 2009


Numb3rs is a television series that teams a sibling team of police detective with a mathematician. They would figure out numerical clues left behind by serial killers and the scum-of-the-universe.

I was watching Simply the Best this afternoon, which featured Canada’s Wayne Gretsky. He retired with multiple awards, hundreds of goals, and his number 99, ice hockey jersey. He also retired in 1999 and became a coach in 2005.

I was reading my friend’s Ray Koch and his blog (Lessons Whispered by Horses), which featured an article (by Sarah Robinson) on numbers. He said that a few weeks ago his friend reminded him that the time 12:34:56.789 would occur once a year. That is the time 12:34:56 on 7 August 2009. Ray pointed out that it appeared twice a day, over 24 different time zones! The Beijing Olympic Games was held on 8 August 2008; and correct me if I am wrong, at 8:08pm. The number date 8/8/2008 will not occur until a thousand years later. If you were married last year on 8/8/2008, then lucky you!

A prime number (1,2, 3, 5, 7, 11, etc) is a number, indivisible except by itself. The symbol ‘pi’ is an infinite number (3.1428571…). One is alone. Two is company (duo or duet). Three is a crowd (or a team or trio). Four is a quartet. Five is a quintuplet. Teams are collection of people. There are words to describe collective nouns: Teams, library, gaggle, bunch, string, clan, etc.

An Ironman triathlon (IM) is a trilogy of a 3.8km swim, 180km bike ride, and 42km run. The total distance of 226km to be completed in 17 hours of less. There are double-IM, quadruple-IM, and the deca-Ironman race (10 races over 10 days or 38km swim, then ride 1,800km, and then 420km run). Ultra-marathons work on the format of multiples of 42km; the challenge for athletes is to work with the intensity associated with the duration and distance.

These numbers may mean something, or nothing. Until the numbers have meanings then it would be irrelevant and useless.

Leadership Lessons: Which numbers are important to you? What is your optimal size for your team? How much would it be when you know you have ‘enough’?


Matty Wong said...

Never understood the series "Numbers" prob due to the fact that i didn't do well in class for Maths.

Research have shown that 7 is the optimal number for a team and I find that relatively accurate.

Enrico Varella said...

I didn't do too well at mathematics either. However, I now focus on value and values. What can we add, minus, multiply or divide with regard to value should be an interesting proposition for managers and leaders. The equation 7+/-2 is a fascinating one. We tend to acquire between 5-9 pieces (bits, bytes, iota) of information at any one time. Seven days make a whole week. Plus, it is a prime number.

Numbers add up. After nearly four months, and 122 posts I have been featured on Thank you for helping me along. That's what leaders like you do. Cheers!