Flywheel Smoothing

Day 323 Week 47 Q4  Saturday, November 19, 2022

I know I have mentioned flywheels elsewhere but never focused exclusively on their usefulness for creative outliers. For a quick review, a flywheel serves to smooth out the impulses of energy provided by a combustion engine.  A combustion engine, like a creative outliers mind, is a chamber that houses explosions to turn them into the propulsion which drives the motion. And before you ask, yes, electric and hybrid vehicles also have flywheels.  It is my contention that creative outliers resemble combustion engines, both producing power which, due to their explosive intermittent natures, benefit from having a mechanism to smooth out the energy flow.

Maybe you have never thought of yourself as an engine, but I bet you have noticed that you are intermittent in your creative impulsiveness. Ideas and insights may come in a stream like the firing of cylinders of a combustion engine. Increasing from a single-cylinder engine to a twelve-cylinder engine does make for a smoother ride. However, flywheels still had to be invented to smooth out further the jerky nature of an impulse-driven ride. And tonic metaphors, I suspect some of us are more like volcanoes than high rpm engines in that all of our explosions are not of the same magnitude, so that some serious smoothing can be beneficial.

Sometimes creators become fairly solitary figures in part because having a relationship with a volcano is difficult. The flow of lava, although quite exciting, can be difficult to channel into being constructive. You are fortunate if you can, at least for a period of time, be a pet volcano either by having a large massive company that can turn fairly significant explosions into products and services.  I had the good fortune to spend two decades at Bose and Apple, two corporations with strong innovation cultures founded by their own volcanoes, Amar Bose and Steve Jobs.  And of course, it can also be hard to be married to a volcano. And volcanos are not always known for succession planning.

This brings me back to the flywheel.  Whatever kind of creative, impulsive engine you may harbor within you, the ride can be smoothed by being connected to the world through some flywheel; for obvious reasons, flywheels tend to have a lot of mass and require a lot of strength which is why they are usually made of steel. Find a creative volcano in a long-term relationship, and you will also find the partner is strong like steel. But even those fortunate enough to have such a strong partner can benefit from a larger, more massive flywheel, a place where others can value and support impulsive creative energy, like an innovation culture.

For obvious reasons, there are not very many innovation cultures, but what if you could roll your own by spending time with a small group of like-minded also creatively impulsive individuals who can understand your nature because they are just like you?

What if a human flywheel comprised of creative outliers could be constructed? This type of group could both support and smooth out the inherent impulsiveness of the creative process. Furthermore, in these pandemic-fueled geographic proximity transcending hybrid times, the flywheel could even be in large part virtual, sometimes meeting in person and sometimes meeting in the digital ether, and eventually meeting in both at the same time.

This is a creator’s flywheel, and yes, they do exist, and they are beneficial in smoothing out and supporting the creative process within creative individuals.  I have personally experienced a few of these places where it is safe and constructive to be a creative volcano.