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Title: The Nothing That Is
Author(s): Robert Kaplan
Number of Referenced Stories: 3

Publication Year: 1999
ISBN: 9780195142372
Dewey Decimal Class: 500
Dewey Decimal Division: 511
Author Website:

Just in Time Stories:
    #706 - Calendar - Maya
    #910 - Zero, the Number
    #911 - Double-entry Bookkeeping - Luca Pacioli, Venice

B's Buzz

Bob Kaplan corresponds:

"If you look at zero you see nothing; but look through it and you will see the world. For zero brings into focus the great, organic sprawl of mathematics, and mathematics in turn the complex nature of things. From counting to calculating, from estimating the odds to knowing exactly when the tides in our affairs will crest, the shining tools of mathematics let us follow the tacking course everything takes through everything else—and all of their parts swing on the smallest of pivots, zero." 

Zero (or nothing) is one definition everyone agrees on.  Check out Harvard Mathematics Professor Kaplan's referenced Just-In-Time Stories for deeper insight and intriguing narratives.    

Behavioral definitions frame a complementary, under-recognized pattern as potent for behavior as mathematics is for science.  Two business stories discovered in The Necessary Revolution twist the calculation of the nothing that is.

A Xerox team's zero to landfill definition lent credibility to other environmental prompting definitions—component reuse, product rebuilds and beneficial reuse.  It shifted organizational behaviors inside and outside Xerox in the 1990's to help save the company while providing an early green success for the world. (#1301)

Aluminum giant Alcoa greatly improved safety when CEO Paul O'Neil—who later served as U.S. Secretary of Commerce—redefined an internal debate withcommonsense judgment, "I am of the opinion that zero is the right number.  You cannot plan to kill three people a year because you killed four people last year and you want to get a little better.  And you can't plan to have a thousand people going to medical centers in Alcoa’s plants.  So the goal is zero.  Zero fatalities.  Zero lost work days.  Zero injuries.  Zero reportable incidents." (#1202)

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