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Connecting the dots

FG Editor Lynn Jaynes Published on 01 April 2014

Few people have heard of the Battle of Taranto, which took place at the beginning of WWII before the U.S. entered the conflict.

Formerly, military theory held that ships in shallow water were not at risk for torpedoes launched from airplanes from aircraft carriers because the bombs would drop or dive into the water and become stuck in the sand.

The British, however, devised a way to use a wire to pull up the nose of the torpedo, so that it did a belly flop rather than a nosedive, and added wooden fins to the torpedoes so they wouldn’t dive so deeply.

On a November day in 1940, in less than an hour, British airplanes launched their torpedoes and put half the Italian fleet out of commission for six months.

Two men “connected the dots” and thought, if this could be done by the British in Taranto, then why not by other forces? One of the men was Japanese Admiral Yamamoto.

He wrote down his ideas in January 1941 and refined them until they became the blueprint for the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7 of that year.

The other man who connected the dots (even more quickly – only two weeks after the Battle of Taranto) was Admiral Stark, chief of naval operations for the U.S.

He wrote a memo stating the most vulnerable position for the U.S. would be a sudden attack in Hawaiian waters, on the fleet based at Pearl Harbor, and he noted it would be desirable to place torpedo nets within the harbor.

The memo was sent to his boss, the secretary of the navy. The difference was that the Americans lost track of the warning. Insights don’t count for much if we can’t translate them into action.

Connecting-the-dots strategy suggests that we can increase insights by exposing ourselves to lots of different ideas that might help us form new connections.

This makes it seem like an easy task, but the truth is there are lots of non-dots – and it’s not easy figuring out which dots to connect. Even this WWII example has been grossly oversimplified; it was much more complicated and contained lots of non-dots that, to be fair, need to be sifted through to see the overall picture.

One of the things I’m passionate about is lifelong learning (connecting the dots). No matter what your interest is (and I hope you have several), life will be more meaningful and happier when combined with continued education.

There’s a deep sense of satisfaction when dots are connected; it’s the “a-ha” moment. And once we get that insight, we become more focused, more effective and infinitely more satisfied with our direction and purpose.

During the forage conferences, seminars and trade shows of this past year and during conversations with producers and professionals in the industry, I have had several “a-ha” moments where I was able to connect a few dots: “Oh, that’s why this is so important and is talked about so much,” or “Oh, that’s what they mean when they say this.”

And that’s why I’m passionate about this magazine and its focus on education. If we can find those people who can deliver good educational content, then you and I can connect the dots and become better forage producers.

Becoming better producers is not an easy thing. There are a lot of non-dots out there – product claims, for instance, that promise miracles. I see these claims at trade shows all the time.

When I ask the vendors for third-party research to back up the claims, they can’t produce it. That’s how I identify the non-dots. Testimonials are great, but they should be the back-up dialog, not the primary debate.

And that’s why I’ll forever be a proponent for the extension system in the land-grant universities. Their research provides the primary debate.

You and I both, as non-scientists, may sometimes get tired of looking at charts and reading “the science,” but the work behind this research forms the dots we must connect to gain insight for our industry.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Smith-Lever Act, forming the extension program in land-grant universities. I salute the extension system and the dedicated researchers and educators therein, helping us to connect the dots within our industry.  FG

00_jaynes_lynn
Lynn Jaynes 
Editor
Progressive Forage Grower

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