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To learn more about the Non Zero Ratio Vision and Mission, Click here

About Piet Holbrouck

Piet Holbrouck completed his Master in Experimental Nuclear Physics at the University of Ghent but preferred the hands-on working in industry. He started working in 1986 at OIP Optics as project manager on defence and space projects.

From 1988 onwards, he managed many space projects at Verhaert(now QinetiQ Space) for Eureca, Spacelab, MIR etc.

From 1998 to 2001, he was CEO of the Verhaert Group leading its space activities and innovative product development as b2b service, realizing amongst others the development of Belgium's first small satellite for ESA in half the normal duration. Launched in 2001, it is still operating and key to successful follow-on small-sat missions such as Proba-V.

He left the Verhaert Group in 2002 to endorse his Non Zero Ratio Mission along a twofold path :

  1. to develop and demonstrate a toolbox to solve problems using win-win rational thinking
  2. to provide management services using the acquired knowledge and expertise.

Piet Holbrouck was Visiting Professor at University of Antwerp Management School in Product Innovation & Entrepreneurship from 2007 to 2010 with courses on problem-solving, decision-making and the monitoring and control of innovative product development.

Since 2002, he provided services to companies such as OIP, Barco, AB InBev, ESSP, Media Lario Technologies (I), InnoGenetics (now Fujirebio), Owens Corning (F), Verhaert New Products & Services, ATG Europe (NL) and Radiolab from Radboud University Nijmegen (NL).

Piet Holbrouck is Affilliated Member of ECCO (Evolution, Complexity and COgnition), an Interdisciplinary Research Center, that is affiliated with Center Leo Apostel and the Global Brain Institute - all at the Free University of Brussels (VUB).

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NON ZERO RATIO symbolizes beautiful (win-win) reasoning using our grey matter.

RATIO refers to the use of reasoning, logic as the basic element of problem-solving.

NON ZERO refers to non zero sum games (game theory) : co-operation (win-win) to maximize result.

NON ZERO RATIO thus refers to thinking in a co-operative win-win framework.

Metaphorically, NON ZERO is a barred zero, and represented by the capital Greek symbol Phi :Phi, the golden ratio

Phi also represents the golden ratio, the number associated with beauty, ubiquiteous in nature, famous for instance for the sun flower pit arrangement.

Non Zero Ratio implies a way of problem-solving that is logic-driven (common sense) rather than creativity-driven.

This way of problem-solving is offered as service to companies in the areas of business development, innovation and strategic projects, but the approach inherently can be applied to any challenge.

As an example of what this entails when people disagree: this approach builds upon the given that the persons disagreeing are sufficiently intelligent as to not take their position out of stubborness but out of correct reasoning from their individual perspective. The approach thus is about growing these reasonable perspectives into a single perspective that both persons recognize as more complete and more correct. This thus provides the momentum and understanding that the company needs to adequately prepare for its future.

As an example of what this entails when being faced with a key challenge: the processes provide guidance to the stakeholders by overcoming classic thinking and decision-making mistakes, while using a customer-driven focus (such as elimination of unwanted product properties, cost reduction).

About the Non Zero Ratio Vision and Mission

Working since 1998 with Goldratt's Thinking Processes on conflicts, contradictions and undesirable effects, in 2000 he became aware of an odd contradiction :

Problem-solving is arguably the most needed discipline in the world.

If you would ask the man in the street who should be the best problem-solvers, the answer would highly likely be our politicians: we expect them to solve the major problems within society. While we require from doctors in medicine, lawyers, psychologists and architects a Master certificate to prove their expertise in their area, we don't expect politicians to demonstrate through a certificate that they master the skill of problem-solving despite the existence of an abundant body of knowledge in the area of problem-solving and decision-making with Nobel Prize winning insights. This begs for the question Why does a Master in Problem-Solving not exist?. This lack of existence implies that politicians are not as trained and skilled in problem-solving as they could and should be, but more importantly this implies that there is no agreement on the processes nor on the behaviour required to optimally solve the key problems within society or even science.

This contradiction defines the Non Zero Ratio Vision :

A vision of a world that explicitly recognizes adequate win-win problem-solving and decision-making processes as the key to overcome the world's challenges.

Why is problem-solving so needed yet so unrecognized, absent?

When looking to the past, one pattern is consistent : major breakthroughs are associated with paradigm changes: something all experts thought was certainly true appeared to be not true, so they were all wrong...

Today more than in the past, our society operates on expertise, the knowing what to do, providing no room to leaders for learning, not being sure, or questioning what majority considers to be unquestionable. How in such a world driving on expertise and recognition, to teach the fundamentals of problem-solving that question expertise?

This outlines the Non Zero Ratio Mission :

Improve the problem-solving process by developing and demonstrating a coherent problem-solving approach, so that authorities, experts, scientists and invividuals cannot but recognize its value and thus hold stronger to the problem-solving processes than to their expertise and personal convictions.

This toolbox defines the balance between expertise and problem-solving (i.e. when to apply expertise and when to apply problem-solving processes) and provides an approach on problem-solving that is based upon a rational problem-solving process ("PANDORA") that can only be adequately applied when adopting also a specific problem-solving behaviour, the "Non Zero behavior".

As an example of a case intended to demonstrate the approach, see Example of a Case of Paradigm Change