Flywheel Indeterminacy

Day 49 Week 7 Q1  Saturday, February 18, 2023

Flywheels, like other innovations, need a champion. If there is not one, they stop spinning. And that contributes to the indeterminacy. For, if the wheel may stop spinning, then who can count on it? One person can always count on it, and that is the person who started the flywheel spinning. If, over time, someone else takes on that responsibility; then the originator can stop showing up as consistently.

If there is one cure for indeterminacy, it is consistency. And like any other startup, there does have to be a driving force or a champion to ensure survival and reduce indeterminacy. In fact, all startups are risky because of the indeterminacy of any fledgling activity or enterprise. This is neither good nor bad; it just is.

Redundancy tremendously reduces the likelihood of failure. Three people who each only miss showing up 10% of the time translates into at least one of the three will be present 99.9% of the time. At least two of them will show up 99% of the time. This power of redundancy, which is why consistency reduces indeterminacy, is the power of the flywheel.

For the math-minded among us, the simple probability formula relating Reliability (R) and Fallibility (F) is;  R + F = 1. This means there is a tendency for a system to either fail or to be reliable. And since the failure modes are multiplicative, R = 1 – π(F1F2…Fn), where R is reliability and F1 to Fn are Fallibilities.  The π sign means multiply. 

This not-very-intuitive result is incredibly powerful. A group is going to be very much more reliable than an individual. And this is why collaboration and teamwork generally but not always triumph over an individual. And why repetition to the point of creating a habit, although equally powerful, can not guarantee the shared behavior called a flywheel will always work, making both indeterminate to some degree. They both come down to the need for a mostly bulletproof individual at the core of a reliable flywheel, habit, system or company.

If an individual takes it upon themselves to show up all of the time, then they can attract other individuals who will do the same, and eventually, there can be an operating Flywheel. Without that first person we can call a founder; the flywheel will never be sustainable. This is also why investors rarely invest in an individual and search for teams.

Get into the flywheel habit, and although it can be indeterminate who shows up, you can get to the point where it is extremely likely that someone will show up, thereby countering flywheel indeterminacy.