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Water Wings

Optimize Blog - June 5, 2012 - 0 comments

A mosquito’s tiny, low-weight body is the key to its ability to survive flying in the rain, according to a team from the Georgia Institute of Technology. The team filmed the insects as they collided with water droplets simulating raindrops.
After repeated attempts at what the team described as the most difficult game of darts ever, they managed to hit flying mosquitoes with drops of water and capture footage of the result with a high speed camera.
Each droplet was up to 50 times the weight of the mosquito but what the team observed was that the mosquito simply joins the droplet, becoming one item and travelling together.
The trick for a mosquito is that it hardly slows the raindrop down at all, and absorbs very little of its energy. Surviving the collision though, is not the end of the drama for a tiny insect. It has to escape from its watery liaison before the droplet hits the ground at more than 20mph.
This is where the insect’s body, which is covered in water-repellent hairs, seems to give it another crucial survival technique. Every mosquito studied in this experiment managed to separate itself from the water drop before it hit the ground.
Lead researcher David Hu said “If you’re small, it can be very dangerous. But it seems that these mosquitoes are so small that they’re safe.” Describing the results, Dr Hu cited the Chinese martial art of Tai chi – “There is a philosophy that if you don’t resist the force of your opponent, you won’t feel it,” he explained.
Coming head to head with an ‘opponent’ at work can be equally as scary for us as the water droplet is for our friend the mosquito. While we like to say that business is a contact sport, very few actually enjoy conflict in the workplace. Of course conflict at work should be viewed as a positive thing provided it takes place in an environment of trust. Where there is little or no trust that conflict can be damaging.
As leaders we need to understand that not everyone sees the world in the same way and that means that people see the world differently from us no matter how convinced we are that our perspective is correct! Understanding each other’s perspectives is a critical element in forming productive relationships and creating trust within and across teams.
When a moving object crashes into another, it is the sudden halt that produces a damage-causing force. When a moving object hits a static object the moving object and the static object have to absorb all of the energy carried by the moving object, causing a great deal of damage. And so it is with our work environment. Where compromise cannot be reached or where conflict remains unresolved the damage can be substantial and the collateral damage even more so.
As with the mosquito challenged by the rain drop, we need to come together with conflicting and opposing forces and figure out what needs to be done before going our separate ways having survived the event. Where we reach compromise and agree a way forward in a positive manner, things will get done. As leaders this is a key factor both in our own relationships and those of our team.
So next time you come across a colleague or other individual at work that appears to be hurtling toward you on a collision course, think of how the mosquito survives. Don’t confront it head on as an immovable object but rather figure out how by coming together you can both move things forward for the good of the organization.

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