Have Dimples, Will Travel...Farther
In 1904, Ludwig Prandtl
, published a paper that significantly improved the understanding of aerodynamic drag. Prandtl's discovery of relatively thin ("boundary") layers of highly viscous flow that cover all moving objects, from golf balls to the planet Earth, has allowed aerodynamicists, including the Wright Brothers, to design airplanes with ever lower drag, leading to ever improving fuel savings. They do so by realizing that the "total
drag" on an object has two components; pressure drag and friction drag. For a simple explanation, pressure drag can be lowered by reducing the frontal area of an object, as when bicyclists lay their upper bodies close to their bike, instead of sitting upright. Frictional drag can be reduced by making an object smoother, as when surfaces are polished.
Beginning in 1905, golfers have benefited from the design of golf balls with reduced total drag. With dimples, they travel farther. How they do it requires the two components of drag to be viewed as a system, for dimples do not result in a smooth surface. Instead, they are known to increase frictional drag (as shown in a recent YouTube video posted by researchers at Arizona State University). But, through an understanding of Prandtl's discovery of "boundary layers," the increase in frictional drag is accompanied by a far greater decrease in pressure drag, leading to a net savings in drag. Had they been managed without a sense of a system (as when all departments in a company focus on ways to lower their own costs, to achieve total savings), one design team would focus on decreasing frictional drag, another on decreasing pressure drag, as if they were separate, golf balls would be smooth and polished. Instead, the designers use a "loss leader" strategy, deliberately making one drag component worse to lower the total drag. By increasing frictional drag, they travel farther. Supermarkets do the same when they sell some products at a loss, looking to increase total profit when customers buy products that are sold at a higher profit. By decreasing profit in one department, they can increase profit overall. What these situations have in common is an ability to purposefully manage resources, with a focus on interactions, not the actions taken separately, as Russ Ackoff was quoted many times.
If you're interested in exploring the limitless implications of teamwork in industry, government, and education, through better thinking about thinking, we invite you to join with peers at the In2:InThinking Network 2013 Forum in Los Angeles, California, from June 19th through 23rd, on the campus of California State University, Northridge (CSUN). This year, our ever timely focus will be:
"The Art of Reflection: xConnect - Inspire - Act"
For more information, visit our 2013 Forum website at www.in2in.org/forums/2013
or e-mail us at email@example.com
. Our Forum registration fee is $400 for our Weekend Conference, with a $50 discount for registrations received by midnight, Pacific Time, on May 8th.
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In2:InThinking Network 2013 Forum Team