Kehinde (I.T.) Majolagbe | Breaking Problems Down Into Actionable Pieces, & How to Develop Good Habits
Whos is Kehinde (I.T.) Majolagbe?
Kehinde (I.T.) Majolagbe grew up in Nigeria. As you can imagine, he grew up solving a different set of problems. One of which where to get water. He was doing this while having intermittent access to electricity during the day. Coupled with a rigorous educational system, As a result, the environment he grew up with greatly helped him become an insightful problem solver (engineer).
From fixing broken fuses in TVs as well as qualifying process performance, his methodical approach to solving problems is one our entire community can learn from.
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work, nigeria, problem, solve, process, design, question, interesting, break, fuse, engineer, people, run, means, thinking, engineering teams, product, reward, system, lean startup
Kehinde (I.T.) Majolagbe, Aaron Moncur, Presenter
Aaron Moncur 00:00
Hello, dear listener, we are looking to add a new member to our engineering team. Again. Ideally, we’re looking for a Senior Level Mechanical Design Engineer in the Phoenix area who has experienced designing custom automated machines, equipment and test fixtures. Also, having working experience with controls and system integration would be a big plus. If you’d like to apply or suggest someone, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Being an Engineer Podcast is a repository for industry knowledge and a tool through which engineers learn about and connect with relevant companies, technologies, people resources and opportunities. Enjoy the show.
Kehinde (I.T.) Majolagbe 00:46
You know, a lot of people have done research into like, insights and with, you know, ideas kind of come from. And it turns out that we have this loose connections in our brain. And then when they all kind of aligned, that’s kind of when the aha moment kind of comes from.
Aaron Moncur 01:17
Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Being an Engineer Podcast. Our guest today is Kehinde Majolagbe, and otherwise known IT, I think I’ll stick with IT. So I don’t butcher your name for the rest of the podcast. IT has a degree in Chemical and Bio Molecular Engineering and works at WL Gore, where he’s held the roles of Process Engineer, New Product Development Engineer, Project Manager and currently, New Business Development. So with that, IT, thank you, and welcome to the show.
Kehinde (I.T.) Majolagbe 01:55
Thanks. Thanks for having me.
Aaron Moncur 01:57
What made you decide to become an engineer?
Kehinde (I.T.) Majolagbe 02:00
Wow, that’s that’s a? That’s a good question. So actually, I grew up in Nigeria, and very small town in Nigeria. And I have to say, like, all the options, in terms of like, what you could be wasn’t quite as vast as some of the options that, you know, available here in America. But you know, as I was going to the educational curriculum in Nigeria, I started talking to myself a couple of questions from just my experience and things and recognize that hey, so the first question is, what are the subjects that really resonate with you? So she looked at the sciences, the arts, etc. So got some insights there. And then, through that process, again, when I came to America, the same question like, Okay, what kind of lifestyle do I want to have, and kind of going through that filter, filtration process kind of led me led me to engineering, and sometimes, you know, was just the best option just because of my passion for chemistry, physics, and a little bit of math as well. So
Aaron Moncur 03:10
I think that’s such a great way to go about it, right? kind of starting at the end, what kind of life do I want to have? And then reverse engineer that what kind of profession is going to allow me to, to enjoy that that kind of life? Can you can you tell us share a little bit about what it was like growing up in Nigeria? And then how, what the path was coming to the US and getting your degree in engineering?
Kehinde (I.T.) Majolagbe 03:37
Yeah. So it’s so fascinating, what I kind of think back at it. Much of my childhood in Nigeria was about problem solving, actually. So check it out. So in Nigeria, at least at the time, when I was there, electricity wasn’t 24 hours, right? So you couldn’t kind of just sit in front of a television or play video games, so I needed to figure out a different way to entertain yourself. And that came from like, just taking ordinary objects and finding, finding new story for ordinary objects and, and kind of creating entertainments around that. So. So that was actually fun. I would imagine probably the same level of utility with watching television and things of this where I didn’t know the difference at the time. So I didn’t know I was missing. I was missing anything. But Nigeria is very it’s a very social community. So almost everything you do you do it with other people. You can walk into anybody’s home and just have a great time. You don’t have to be invited. There’s not a lot of barriers to just like engaging social things. But there were some challenges as well. So for example, just to like, have water in the house. It’s not a push of a button. or turning over force that there’s a little bit of thinking and planning, just out of the basic things, right? You can you can take those things for granted. So, but all in all, I think it was, it was exciting, it was fun. And then coming to America, it was always the prescribed path, if I could say it that way. So my parents kind of went to university in America, and they had this idea of, Hey, you know, I have the Nigerian experience, and I have the American experience as well. I think I think I want my children to have the best of both worlds, I want them to understand the value of hard work and justice, community, communal culture that I described, and you know, really understand the rigor, the educational rigor that comes with knowing, like, principles, from a theoretical standpoint, but, but I want him to come to America, where there’s a lot of experimentation, there’s this culture of like, just pushing the edge, trying new things, and, and getting data, and just don’t be afraid to fail. So I think, I think the thought process then was okay, they’re gonna go to school, you know, born and raised in Nigeria, but then after the I school, educational path has been completed, and we could kind of bring them to America and get, get the university side of things and kind of round up, run up this skill set.
Aaron Moncur 06:26
I grew up in Hawaii, and the culture there, it sounds similar in a way to Nigeria, where there’s a lot of social interaction, people are pretty laid back, certainly, we didn’t have some of the problems that you had, like having to plan for water and electricity not being on all the time, but in other ways that the social aspect sounds very similar. And it was a very laid back place. And I loved that about Hawaii. I think when I went to college, in Utah, something that surprised me was, it’s not as laid back here. It was a very different culture, you know, and that was true in education, as well. And it was kind of a rude awakening to me, you know, it was like, Oh, I actually need to really try and try hard to make this work. Was was that an experience that you had as well? Or where you are? I mean, you had to solve so many problems growing up, like you mentioned, maybe that just was not a cultural shock at all to you.
Kehinde (I.T.) Majolagbe 07:32
Yeah, no, that’s, that’s it. That’s a good point, I would say there were some new learnings I had to pick up when I came to America. And over time, kind of pick those up, but but in Nigeria, so I’ll give you, I’ll give you an example of a typical day, in high school, in Nigeria, for example. So it’s when you wake up, you’re probably waking up like 630 in the morning, have to do some chores. In Nigeria, it’s part of the culture. And then at some point around like, 730, you’re trying to make your way to school. And then when you get to school, at two, you’re in school, doing all kinds of things, right. But then, after two o’clock, two to four, you get a break. But on 430, we have something called after school, which is another set of schools that is optional, but most parents that can afford it was sent send their kids to after school. And that’s usually like another hour and a half. And then you go home and you know, try to get a break in between then and do some homework and all the other things you need to do. And then in, in Nigeria, there’s such a, there’s such a pressure of performance, and motivate. And here’s what I mean. On top of having like grades for your specific classes, you’re also ranked against your peers. So you kind of know who is top gun.
Aaron Moncur 09:03
And this is all public, everyone has access to that information?
Kehinde (I.T.) Majolagbe 09:06
Yep. Everyone, talk about open open toward your parents, your teachers, your friends, everybody, everybody knows. And then in the particular school I went to was also an extra bar of performance meaning session, 40 students in the class, the last two students do not get to advance to the next level. So they get an opportunity to repeat the level. And then if you’re still bottom tier, it’s really hard to stay thinking about it. Now they get expelled, so that there’s such a pressure to perform. So when I came to America, I already had that ethos that that woke culture. So it’s easy for me to like, just get in, learn what I needed to learn and try to try to like, execute effectively. So
Aaron Moncur 10:00
That’s fascinating. It sounds like the educational system there was pretty rigorous actually.
Kehinde (I.T.) Majolagbe 10:05
Yeah, it was. But again, like, I think there was, there was an interesting cultural learning and, you know, some, some great habit formation. But sometimes I wonder, like, if if a better design was warranted in terms of making sure you have balance, and really kind of going back to first principles, and kind of really think about, hey, what am I going for here? And why do I have? Why do I have this this structure of learning? And, you know, is it really given me the output that I want? I mean, I would say, on average, Nigerian is, from an educational standpoint, this is a general statement, I think they tend to do well. But you know, if you kind of look at the trade off, so Nigerians don’t typically participate in sports. So that typical day I gave you I didn’t mention anything about sports, or anything of the sort, that’s viewed as secondary or tertiary, actually, so. So I wonder, like, looking back that a better balance was warranted, and, and how can we actually, you know, move away from that extreme and kind of find, you know, something more of a sweet spot from my point of view. Anyway…
Aaron Moncur 11:20
Yeah, it reminds me a little bit of folks I’ve talked to on the podcast, who grew up on a farm, that Nigeria is a farm, but they talk a lot about just having to come up with solutions, right, the tool breaks, you have to figure out how to how to fix it, you don’t have electricity for some portion of the day, you have to figure out how to get get by with that. So maybe not an easy or simple life, but it probably allowed you to develop some some very important skills that you relied on, you know, throughout your life.
Kehinde (I.T.) Majolagbe 11:58
Yeah, it’s interesting. I’m recalling, you know, when when there is, as you can probably imagine, when when electricity is on is a is a preference to maximize time period. So I recall this incidence where like, he just wasn’t working. And I was like, What? I don’t have time. To turn everything off, I actually took the TV out and actually took it apart. Oh, yeah, it took it apart and recognize that the fuse, you know, so the surgeon electricity was too high and burnt out the fuse. And I’m not saying for people to do this, but this is kind of go into your question of like solving that problem solving mentality is no, I can’t go to a store to buy another few. So am I going to solve this problem? So what’s the function of the fuse? You know, it’s complete the circuit, right? Is there a different way for me to kind of complete the circuit and ultimately solve the problem? and was able to like capitalize on you know, the time when the light? Yeah, so yeah, that’s just kind of interesting, actually. Yeah.
Aaron Moncur 13:06
That was awesome. That’s awesome. I love that. And I love how the thought process you shared, right? You open up the TV and saw that there was a fuse blown out, some people may have stopped there and said, okay, the fuse is blown. I don’t know what a fuse is. I don’t have another fuse here. But you broke it down into kind of its elemental parts. Right. What is the purpose of the fuse? It’s not just this blackbuck fuse doesn’t work? I don’t have another one. Okay, game over? No, it was what is the fuse? What is the purpose the function of a fuse? What else can I cobbled together here that might serve the same purpose? I think that’s a really important framework. When when problem solving, it’s not to just look at a problem, say, okay, it doesn’t work, you know, I’m out game over. But why isn’t this working? What are the individual elements of this problem? And how can I? How can I break it down far enough to where I can move forward, I can implement some kind of solution. Very good. Well, you’ve been involved in process development and performance qualification, I wanted to ask you what, what does that process look like for you? What are the steps that you take to qualify the performance of a product or a system?
Kehinde (I.T.) Majolagbe 14:23
Yeah, no, that’s, that’s a, that’s a very good question. So, let me take an example. And in this particular example, so imagine having a drum like a 55 gallon drum full of a solid material, and a solid material is a polymer. And ultimately, your goal is to try to get it to like beautiful little pellets. You know, that you can kind of ship out to the customer and have have the customer like, be able to use it in this 55 gallon drum form. It’s not really usable for the customer. So The problem you’re trying to solve is, how do I, how do I take this 55 gallon massive block of polymer down to this beautiful, nicely shaped pellets in the most efficient form as possible? And there’s several ways you could do that you could potentially melt it, right? So you can see, do I need to go from this 55 gallon material completely melted down and and turn it into a pellet? Well, that might be like, the straightforward way to do it. But you might imagine, like, that would be complex. She like, okay, let’s not do that. Let me let me try to get into like smaller chunks first. And then once I get into smaller chunks, then maybe I can melt it, you know, when I melted, I can reform it into into your palate, that’s kind of really the thought process, and which each of those, so you might say, Okay, let’s go from a drum to like a disc. That’s the first step. Just kind of cut it down. Right? So how do I do that? How do I automate that process? And then how do I go from a desk into like, shred, right? And what does that look like? And then how do I go from shreds into like, granules, like, you know, put out non uniform shapes? And then how do I go from taking that and, and transported into someplace where I can melt it down, and turn into this beautiful, very uniform shape palette. So it’s just, you know, you take this big problem, and you try to like, break it down into small components. And then once you do that, the next problem you want to solve is okay, I’ve been able to do it, let’s say, I put the process down on a Wednesday. And it worked. Well, what’s the guarantee that it’s going to work on a Thursday? Friday? What’s the guarantee that it’s going to work? If I have somebody else running the machine? What if I did a different batch of 55 gallon drum? Is it still gonna work? What if something breaks down? How do I mature, like, I have critical parts in place to, to fix it. And, you know, we have a lot of, you know, the good thing is, is an engineer, you don’t have to start from scratch, right? So we got some cool guiding principles to help you out. You can use a theory of experimental design to kind of challenge the terminology, we use design space, or boundary conditions. And, you know, using this theory of explaining to design a couple of statistics kind of gives you some probability distribution, that that then you can use to, like measure the health of your process and kind of really think through like, what what do I really need to do to operate within two standard deviation and make sure that this process is running smoothly. So those are just some perspectives that I take when I’m thinking of designing the process and invalidating it.
Aaron Moncur 17:50
Thank you, I, again, hear that process of breaking a big thing down into smaller chunks, you know, you keep breaking it down into smaller and smaller chunks, until you have something that you can actually wrap your head around. I think oftentimes, we look at a big problem. From my own experience, maybe we have a new project at work, and it’s a big project, maybe it’s a year long project, it’s really hard to look at that as this big problem slash project and say, how do we do this? Right? But if we can start breaking it up, okay, what are the different modules that go into this machine? What does each module need to do? What what components do I need for each module? Where do I get each component, you keep going down and down until, until it’s something you can wrap your head around and really think about in a tangible, approachable way, as opposed to this this big problem that’s hard to define. And it’s just, it’s like, you know, having someone Think, think about a Googleplex, right? Like, it’s so big that you can’t think about it, the human mind just doesn’t know how to read the context around it.
Kehinde (I.T.) Majolagbe 18:58
Yeah, and I totally agree. So this, this is something, you know, like, I do this every once in a while, where like, I take a product from, or, let’s say, for example, your car, or even just just the car engine, and actually kind of go through the process of Okay, so what is it doing? And how does it do it? And, you know, let me let me try to break it down into its most monomeric component, like, smallest component, and kind of think about the designer and why they did it. Why did they put all these pieces together in the way that they did? And is there a different way for me to like put it together, would it still perform, you know, give me the same kind of output. And, you know, so just kind of going through this mental exercise this may help as well from a design standpoint. But, you know, it’s just something I like to do because it’s fun, but I totally agree with you like breaking down the problem into small components is one way that I found to effective when it comes to like, process design validation and things of the sort?
Aaron Moncur 20:04
Yeah. I think that’s super important. It’s probably not something that I have talked about enough. But there’s this principle of breaking it down into smaller and smaller and smaller chunks until it’s at a point where, you know, maybe it fits within your context of reality. And you can actually think about it in a strategic way. You you’ve been utilizing the lean startup and the Stanford biodesign approaches in your business development role. Can can you share with us the principles behind Lean Startup and Stanford’s Biodesign? How are they? How are they used practically in new product development?
Kehinde (I.T.) Majolagbe 20:41
Yeah, sure. Um, you know, maybe I’ll take a step back and kind of talk about two approaches that I’m familiar with in terms of how products are developed, conceptualized and, and potentially discovered. So, so one approach is something we have ever heard referred to as a technology push. And what this means is, somebody is just kind of asking what if questions, right, and just playing around in the lab until they discover something unique and valuable, something nobody else has thought of. And then when you have this thing, you push it out to others to say, Hey, here’s something I’ve developed is useless for it. And that’s called the technology push. Another approach I’ve seen or experienced is this notion of a technology poor, which means you’ve identified a problem statement, and you think it’s worthwhile solving this problem statement, and you’re pulling for technology development to try to solve solve this problem, Steven, that you’ve identified, the Stanford Biodesign and the Lean Startup approaches kind of fall under the technology poor category, meaning, particularly for Lean Startup language, what are the jobs that needs to be done? Right, so you’re looking for this problems, to solve by design, the first you, in a sense, jobs to be done as needed treatments. So I’ll give you an example. So you could say you’re interested in a particular disease space or using medical, medical example. So let’s say you you’re interested in like, the cardiovascular system, and you’re like, Okay, so what are some of the issues that could exist within the cardiovascular system, you might say, oh, okay, people can develop an aneurysm. And aneurysm is an expansion of one of the big vessels in your body. And the consequence of which can lead to, you know, if you have too much expansion rupture, and, and you could pretty much expire. Another problem is you could have the walls with this big this will start to separate. So you’re like, Okay, how do we deal with that? When does that happen? You can go through this journey of trying to understand like, you know, who are the people susceptible to like having cardiovascular issues? How are they identified today? So you might say, maybe we’re getting 50% of the people with cardiovascular issues, and we’re missing the remaining 50%, while we’re missing the remaining 50%? Well, because the symptom of this disease can be achieved, meaning it just comes on right off the bat, it’s not building over time. So to get to the whole, the detectability is 50%. That’s a problem. So in by design language, they might say, okay, we need a way to improve the detectability of cardiovascular diseases, to reduce mortality. Right? So you’ve identified a problem statement, which is, you know, better, you know, detectability, and the outcome you’re trying to solve is mortality. Right? So, so that could now necessitated technology poor to say, how would you figure out a different way to detect, you know, cardiovascular diseases. Another example could be, let’s say you spend time in operating rooms, and it just kind of observing what physicians are doing. So let’s describe this scenario. As you know, it’s a minimally invasive procedure. So you’re using all this AI and imaging technology that requires some form of radiation, and you know, physicians have to protect themselves from the side radiation, you might look at the current technology and say, is it effective, right? What are some of the issues with you know, what a current trade offs with the current technology and things of the sort and then you can start to like fish out for unmet needs, right, using the sample by design language. And then once you find and there’s so many ways to like, quantify or qualify like what are unmet need is worth solving. And the question of worth is totally dependent as well. We can talk about Once you have this, you know, a list of, then you’re going to you’re not just looking for one, I mean, you’re looking for like, as much as we can find. You’re filtering it down to find the most attractive on that need. And then you pull for technology to try to solve. Does that help?
Aaron Moncur 25:17
Interesting. Yeah. Yeah, that’s very good. Thank you for sharing that. Yeah. I’m gonna take a real quick break here and share with the listeners that teampipeline.us is where you can learn more about how we help medical device engineering teams, who need turnkey automated equipment or custom test fixtures to assemble, inspect, characterize or perform verification or validation testing on their devices. We’re speaking with IT today. And you spend some time studying behavioral economics and improving your own decision-making process. Can you share a few of the golden nuggets that you’ve learned in this area? And and how it can help us as engineers, and really just as people in general, improve our work and personal lives?
Kehinde (I.T.) Majolagbe 26:05
Yeah, no, that’s, that’s a good one. So maybe start with why like, why did I? Why did I even go into this space of Euro economics. So when I got out of college, I had this opinion that if I can just layout, so let’s say I’m trying to, like persuade somebody, to do something, if I could just lay out the logic behind my idea that that was enough. Like, I didn’t have to do any more work to get people to see why it’s valuable to do what I was proposing. And, you know, try that instead of to track my level of success and recognize that, you know, so if you were to like, say, you know, think about, you know, y by x chart, you’re just trying to model like, Hey, this is eyeties input into decision making. And this is kind of the response and levels of success, when you try to draw a line to fit to fit that f of x, I recognize that I was batting 50% or less so. So my logic algorithm wasn’t working. I was also puzzled by that. I was like, wait, what’s going on? Like, it totally makes sense. Why, why aren’t we doing this? So my certainty, or my deep dive into the economics was to try to figure out, okay, what’s going on? How do people how did you persuade people? How do we think and why do people do what they do? So so the first insight that I learned was, there’s a difference between the thinking self and the behaving self. So I’ll give you a give you an example. So let’s say somebody, I don’t know, New Year’s resolution or something like that, I’m going to start working out starting in January, and they’re really thinking this. But then when you start to like track that behavior, maybe you see like this initial alignment with the thinking itself and the behavior itself, they have this very rational story in their mind. But over time, you start to see a decay, or a separation between the thinking self and the bat self, meaning that their behavior doesn’t align with the vision that they have for themselves. So that’s, that’s kind of the first, first insight. And along those lines, is the second insight, which is the behavior itself actually accounts for its its, you know, like, more than 80% of what we do is automatic, right. So you’ve probably heard people talk about your conscious mind and your subconscious mind. And the subconscious mind is behaving, behaving itself. And it turns out like, there are three things you have to like account for, to make sure that you’re recording your subconscious mind in a manner that aligns with your thinking self. So if you want to form a habit, there are three things you need to pay attention to. And this is well documented in a book called The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. So if your audience is interested in this, I recommend, they pick up that book and take a read. So the three nodes that you know, you have a queue, and the queue is something that triggers a behavior. And then the behavior is codified as a routine, which means and I’ll give you an example to like make sure this kind of sinks in. And then and the last note is the reward system. So here’s something I do, I like to run so I run nothing This is recommended or anything, but I run everything for the most part. When I started running, I recognize the Hey, I needed a cue and for me the key was waking up around a particular time. And then when I woke up, you know, kind of down to routine were the same thing and go out for a run and then when I got got back there was a reward that I always, you know, enjoyed. And I do this every day. And what happened was, over time, the level of energy required for me to activate brandy kind of went down to the point where like, if I didn’t run if it feels weird, like, you know, not running feels weird. Now, so. So that was that that’s another insight that that I thought was kind of interesting.
Aaron Moncur 30:26
What were your, your triggers and your rewards for running?
Kehinde (I.T.) Majolagbe 30:30
Yeah, so um, and you kind of have to like, I think it’s totally dependent on the person. So for me this meme, the story I tell myself is I work out because I want to improve my mental resilience, right? So mental toughness, it’s kind of the story, this is gonna sound really weird. But the way I measure that is, okay, if I’m, if it’s all about mental toughness. I’ve got to like, get to the point where like, I’m sweating, right? Like, I’m really, really, really sweating. So when I’m sweating, that’s my measure of mental toughness. So it’s, in a sense, funny, because the routine and the reward are kind of linked together. Right, so the more I sweat, the more I want to run, because that’s the reward. Nice for some people, so I’ll describe a typical case study that was actually covered in the book, The Power of Habit. And a long time ago, they wanted to figure out a way to improve or idle within, you know, Western society. And the value there is, if I’m getting my story, right, within, you know, the military system, or I was actually decreasing the efficiency of troops, right. So what they did was, you know, they created this product, right, the toothpaste on the toothbrush, but it wasn’t sticky, right, people weren’t just, you know, picking up a toothpaste, and brushing their teeth. So they did a couple of things, you will notice that most toothpaste have a taste for them. And the taste is generally sweet. that’s by design. And then another thing you will notice is in a toothpaste is almost a minty feeling. After you brush your teeth, that’s also by design. So what they recognize this, when you wake up, you have this morning kind of film, on your mouth, you can kind of really feel this morning feeling your mother’s tactile feel. And they codify that as not clean. And then when you brush your teeth, you have this minty cool feeling. And they’ll codify that as clean. So
Aaron Moncur 32:45
That’s the reward.
Kehinde (I.T.) Majolagbe 32:46
And that’s the reward. And there’s a bunch of narrative that kind of, you know, help solidify this habit. But, but anyway, just getting into that world, which is truly not engineering, at least in my experience was just very interesting. And I’ve kind of leveraged that in product design and kind of influencing as well. And I could talk forever about it, but I’m not gonna do that.
Aaron Moncur 33:09
Yeah, I think it’s fascinating behavioral economics is so just interesting. Not just interesting. But But relevant to pretty much everyone. I mean, it to some extent, we’re all salespeople, right? We’re all trying to, you know, push our agenda and make things happen. And understanding how humans work is an invaluable tool and being able to accomplish those, those ends. Which leads me to my next question. I feel like I’m not asking you a ton of directly engineering questions, but that’s okay. These are all really interesting topics, I think, tell me about ping pong. Oh, you have this Ping Pong Program you put together? Please share with us about that.
Kehinde (I.T.) Majolagbe 33:52
Yeah, so, um, I was at Gore, as you know, it’s a global company. And I took a temporary assignment in another region. And I was there, you know, the goal is to be there for like, three months. So the problem is I needed to solve, I needed to build credibility, that’s the language we use at Gore. It’s almost a derivative of trust, you know, people trusting your ability, you know, willing to work with you, etc. and I needed to also deliver at the same time all within three months. And when I got to this new spot, what the plant leader just came up, came up to my office and pick me up and say, Yeah, let’s go play pinball. And I’m like, What? Are you serious? And, you know, we go to this pinpoint table we’re playing and like, five minutes later, a couple of people gather. And I just, you know, like, I got off the table. I kind of just noticed, like, the social dynamic, like, just the camaraderie, the you know, like, it was amazing. And in a week, everybody knew my name, they knew else coming from they were willing to work with me, it was just amazing. Like it catalyzed my ability to build credibility with this new group. So after my two months assignment in this region, and I went back to my originating region I pitched, I pitched the leadership to say, Hey, you know, here’s the problem I see within, within our community XYZ. And I think I think we could really solve it by having the [ing pong table. And as you can imagine, everybody kind of looked at it within like, are you serious, like, ultimately, through maybe serendipity, luck, faith, I was able to convince them to run an experiment, like, let’s just try it out. And, you know, initially, you can kind of see, like, you know, hesitation, like, everybody wasn’t sure, like, Hey, you know, if I’m paying people think, you know, like, just lazing around and not doing my job. Ultimately, what it led to, it took off, pretty massively, actually, to the point where like, they were interplant, tournament, etc. Wow, cool. And the next thing they’re going back to, like, you know, your economics system wants them to or your subconscious versus your conscious mind. Your subconscious mind, is really governed by emotion, right? So when you’re going to a new spot, your amygdala is very active, and trying to figure out what are the do’s and don’ts within an environment, if you can reduce that activity, and build trust, within that subconscious mind, it’s going to translate into the working relationship. And I thought, kind of played out from this experiment as well.
Aaron Moncur 36:49
So the job that his ping pong table was hired to do, and kind of the way Clayton Christensen would probably put it, is develop unity within the team. So the group’s there at Gore, is that accurate?
Kehinde (I.T.) Majolagbe 37:03
Yeah, absolutely. And also was, so 100%. But if we can also think about the kind of, you know, things that happen within the plan covers in the very highly technical plan. And what that means is, you know, you have a ton of people trying to solve really difficult problems, saying, it’s not uncommon that they run into my challenges. And the ping pong table is a way for you to actually shift focus, you know, shift energy away from your conscious mind, and actually get, you know, a lot of people have done research into like, insights and where, you know, ideas kind of come from, and it turns out that we have this loose connections in our brain. And then when they all kind of aligned, that’s, that’s kind of when the aha moment kind of comes from and when you can take your mind away from the problem and actually let your subconscious work on it. It’s been shown that it’s more probable that it would actually help you get to that aha moment, a little bit, as well. At least that’s the pitch I gave. But I think that’s, that’s also part of the jobs to be done.
Aaron Moncur 38:10
Well, I’ve read similar things, right, where they talk about play being really important within the highly technical environments, because you’re focused so intently on solving this really complicated problem. And if you keep pushing, keep pushing, keep pushing, you might kind of burn out or just get stuck. But if you can separate your your mental effort from the problem and hedge for a little while and go play something, do something fun, like play ping pong, that’s sometimes when the aha moments can can strike where I don’t know people talk about being in the shower and having good ideas, you know, while they’re in the shower. Again, we’re removed from the situation in question. I love the the story of the ping pong table, we might have to consider getting a ping pong table at Pipeline. I think that would be super fun.
Kehinde (I.T.) Majolagbe 38:58
Oh, yeah, definitely good.
Aaron Moncur 39:01
All right. Well, let’s see. Let me ask you an actual engineering question here. What what changes do you think could be made in engineering teams to make those teams more effective in design, collaboration, R&D? I mean, what what are the things that you put up with each day or each week that you think to yourself, why are we doing it this way? Surely, there’s got to be a better way.
Kehinde (I.T.) Majolagbe 39:32
Good question. Yeah, let’s, you know, take a step back and kind of think about this. So let’s say a problem we’re trying to solve is a way to, let’s say you have an NPV team trying to like commercialize a product, right? And you can look at data and say, it takes about seven years to commercialize a product And then he could pose this promisee kind of is a way for us to reduce that from like seven years to five years. Right? And then once you have that vision, you can say, let’s look at the existing kind of operations, how we go from like, you know, front end to commercialization, let’s see how, where are the opportunities for us to make some improvements and optimized execution so that we can get this, you know, time commercialization time reduction that we’re going for? So from that kind of frame? What are some of the challenges that I deal with? And what are some ways that I think we could kind of solve it? So as you probably know, you know, it’s one thing to like, you know, be an individual, innovator and venture. But I think if you look at, you know, products that exist in the marketplace, today, it’s more likely that you have a team behind the product, not just one person. And then once you have a team, enough to start to think about, okay, so it’s almost like a chain, and the team is only as strong, as you know, its weakest link. And that’s really just an analogy. to, to, to kind of highlight that communication is really important. Right, and once this communication starts to break down, you have problems. So one area you can focus in on is how do you actually improve communication, right. And one of the things like on the teams I’ve been on, you start to pay attention, and you recognize that, hey, you know, the first thing is, you got to make sure that everybody understands the vision and the goal. Like, I think you can’t skip that step. Like communicate, communicate, communicate, make sure everybody gets the vision, like, where are we trying to go? Does it make sense to you, let’s talk about it, right? And then the second thing you have to you have to do is build trust, and establish, you know, sometimes you use this terminology or go or contracts, or commitments, like, people really have to know, like, Hey, this is what I’m bringing into the team. And if I don’t deliver on this commitment, or contract, the team is gonna suffer, right? Because we really, again, it’s a link, it’s not a, an individual thing. Beyond that, now, you just got to like, and there’s no like, one thing to say, for every team that exists out there, but as a team leader, you really have to now observe your turn, right, it’s almost like you have to pay attention to your, your car, like your mechanical system, a human system is you can probably use the mechanical systems analogy to kind of, you know, get some insight into how human systems work. Like, as a leader, you have to understand, like, hey, this person likes to come in at this amount of time. And, and they work best in this time period, and the workplace doing XYZ kind of event, you really have to pay attention to that. And, and you just have to like, slowly, you know, like, experiment with the team, and pay attention to output. So so one of the things we’ve done here ago, at least within the teams that I’ve been on a goal, it’s very likely that people have multiple commitments, right? So you’re not just working on one thing. But one of the things I tried to do is, hey, you have Monday to Friday, Monday to Wednesday, you’re going to devote to like this project that we’re on together, right? Because I don’t want you switching back and forth. Because I know you’re going to lose efficiency. And if you lose efficiency, chances are it’s going to snowball into like your overall project timeline. And then maybe Thursday or Friday, you can I know not to bother you. Right? Only only on special cases, I know not to bother you. So that’s just kind of one idea. And you can kind of apply that thinking to a lot of things like equipment, you can apply to like funding. You can, I think, I think one important thing is to just pay attention to like that thinking, and make sure that you know you’re properly articulate in a goal. And, and really, you know, there’s no, you just have to be willing to experiment, you know, because teams people are really different. And sometimes the solution is not what you think it will be until you pay attention and, and try to experiment.
Aaron Moncur 44:32
I think that’s a very astute point that you have to be willing to experiment. It makes me think about my kids actually, we’ve had, you know, some minor struggles with our kids where they’re not doing what they’re supposed to be or they’re not doing well in school or they’re having behavioral, you know, problems or whatever. And so far anyway, we my wife and I have not found like the silver bullet that helps us fix these things, right. It’s okay, we’re having this problem. My wife and I will get together and say, What can we do about this? What do we think might be a helpful solution? And we’ll try something. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, we’ll think about we’ll brainstorm a little bit more. What else can we try? Well, what if we did this? Okay, let’s try that. And it’s just like continuing evolution of ideas, right? And, and even when you find one that does work, chances are, it doesn’t work forever, it works for some period of time. And then it loses its effectiveness. And you have to think of another idea. So it’s, again, this continual evolution of implementing new ideas, and evaluating how well they work. And if they don’t work, you put a new idea in there. And if they do work, well, maybe there’s some improvement you can do over time, or maybe it stops working at some point, in which case, you start the process all over. When I when I spoke with Elizabeth Millette, several weeks ago, she she talked about the importance of communication, as well. And I remember thinking during that conversation, you know, that there really is no substitute for, for good communication. Sometimes, as an engineer, I, I try to come up with a process that will fix something, and not to minimize the importance of processes, I think they are very important. But there’s, there’s no process that fixes a lack of communication. You just have to have people talking, and there’s no, there’s no way around that no amount of checklists are going to solve the people the problem of people not not talking not communicating enough.
Kehinde (I.T.) Majolagbe 46:35
Yeah, I completely agree. You know, one of the things at least at Gore, you know, we have this lattice organization. And, you know, the way I like to think about it is every person within this organization is almost like, a brain cell, right? And you have all this connectivity, you know, that stretches out to every associate, and, you know, the system works in this communication, right? It’s signal flying all over the place, right? If there’s a shortage in, in a connection, you can have a systemic, systemic issue. So as a leader, I really pay attention to that for sure. And, you know, I go in there believing that everybody, again, going back to like, you know, be of economics, like, you know, there’s a few there’s a return as a reward. And there’s something that everybody only changes about, they have to understand that as a leader, they have to make sure I do my best to make sure that people are getting utility out of being a member of the team, because that’s why that’s the only reason why they’re gonna want to wake up in the morning, and put on your shoes and go and run quote, unquote, and and feel good about doing it each and every day. So.
Aaron Moncur 47:50
Absolutely, yeah. Well, it This has been awesome. He’s shared some really insightful comments, and I deeply appreciate it. How can people get ahold of you?
Kehinde (I.T.) Majolagbe 48:00
Yeah, thanks. So I’m on I’m on LinkedIn, people can find find me by searching for my real name, Kehinde Majolagbe. They can also shoot me an email anytime. So I’ll spell it out. email@example.com.
Aaron Moncur 48:17
Terrific. I do have one more question. Where did your nickname IT come from?
Kehinde (I.T.) Majolagbe 48:23
That’s a great, that’s good. So this is going to be a little story. And it’s going to be, you know, insightful for folks to understand kind of how the naming conventions in, in a particular tribe in Nigeria actually worked. So Kehinde means it’s my first name, but it’s more than a name. It’s also my birth identity. So it means the second twin so you can probably infer from that statement that I’m a twin. And I’m the second twin, right? So
Aaron Moncur 48:56
Kehinde (I.T.) Majolagbe 48:57
Yeah, and the tribe is you know, it’s the Yoruba tribe of Nigeria. So whenever you have a twin and it’s the second twin, the name is came in. And my particular family my mom has two sets of twins. Oh, I have an older sister also called Kehinde. So so this is some kind of bridge that bridge can have can happen very often. Yeah, like a show nation that doesn’t work. So I went by my middle name. And my middle name is spelt ADEIT which is whether IT comes from you and you another thing about my particular family in Nigeria when you don’t have a birth order name that ADE is a unifier. So my siblings have it in front of their names my cousin’s have it in front of their name. It’s almost it’s not quite a last name, but it’s it’s a unifier similar to last thing, so my unique name is it. Yeah. And somebody just decided to get rid of the last three letters. And voila, IT.
Aaron Moncur 50:07
Fascinating. I love that. Thank you so much for sharing that. How interesting. Okay, it well, this has been just a pure delight. Thank you so much again.
Kehinde (I.T.) Majolagbe 50:15
I appreciate the time. Thanks for having me. It’s been a fun engaging conversation.
Aaron Moncur 50:23
I’m Aaron Moncur, founder of Pipeline Design and Engineering. If you liked what you heard today, please share the episode. To learn how your team can leverage our team’s expertise developing turnkey equipment, custom fixtures and automated machines and with product design, visit us at teampipeline.us. Thanks for listening.
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