When we examine events, we tend to look at them too narrowly and statically. The advantage of the schematic in this post is to remind us of two things regarding the anatomy of events:
- We tend to overestimate our influence and underestimate or ignore other influences especially if we are optimistic.
- All forces are moving through time, so change is omnipresent but also occurring with continuity; the best indicator of what will happen today is what happened yesterday.
The four major forces acting upon events are:
- Situation: all the non-human forces acting upon an event (i.e. weather, money, resources, location)
- Flow: the trend and continuity of all forces as they interact with one another (i.e. few things change on a dime; they move through intermediate states)
- People: all the active and passive participants involved in the event (i.e. customers, employees, managers, vendors)
- Leader: the person trying to influence the event’s outcome in a particular direction (i.e. manager, individual, small team)
The arrows’ thicknesses represent the relative power behind each force and remind us that the other forces are generally more powerful than ours is. The implication is that we usually must:
Take action, or prepare to take action, as early as possible so we can seize the opportunity at hand or the one that is coming
Just as deflecting an asteroid’s trajectory early with a small force makes for a huge miss later, developing strong relationships now makes leveraging them easier in the future. Preparing now allows us to take advantage of crises and other opportune moments in which the other forces are coalescing behind us.
This schematic reminds us to consider the strength and flow of other forces so we minimize our exposure to being at the mercy of events.