Supple

In his podcast, Akimbo [https://www.akimbo.me/], Seth Godin teaches us how to adopt a posture of possibility, change the culture, and choose to make a difference. Here are my takeaways from the episode.

In this podcast, Seth discussed the concept of being “supple.” Being supple and resilient is what we need to do when the world changes, and the world has been changing. The world is also changing faster.

Being brittle is the opposite of being supple. We create a brittle strategy when we invest all of our resources in a certain way with a certain thesis. When the world changes, our brittle strategy can make us very unhappy.

Seth asserted that seven elements are involved in making the difficult choice of choosing to be resilient and supple in the face of change.

(1) Scale.

The bigger our work gets, the more dependencies we will have and the more difficult it is to change what we do. Some big businesses are successful not because they are supple but because their strategy works with the existing environment. The scale we choose will influence how supple we are going to be in the face of change. We need to be mindful of our surrounding and marketplace when we commit to investing at a certain scale.

(2) Reserve.

The simple rule about the reserve is not to run out, money or other resources. It is much easier to be supple when our scale is appropriate to the reserve level we have on hand. When we cannot weather a dry period, it can be stressful. We also will not be able to invest properly when we are out of reserves. The resources on-hand can put us in a better position to dance with the new world order when it arrives.

(3) Discuss.

One choice we need to make when facing a change is to talk about it and often. The brittle choice is to believe that, if we do not talk about it, it will go away. Of course, the world will change with or without us. Talking about the shifts is the only way that we can evolve our thinking and discover the new places we ought to be going.

(4) Mindfulness.

Being mindful is being aware that the world is always changing. Mindfulness is also about acknowledging that the world is changing to something different, rather than denying it.

(5) Choice.

We choose to be resilient. We choose to have reserves. We choose to be mindful and to talk about the changes. We choose to pick an appropriate scale so that we can be nimble when the world changes. When we bet that the world is going to change, we may very well be right.

(6) Experiment.

We need to have a bias for experiments. Not all responses to the change will be effective, as most responses will likely fail or not doing as well as we had hoped. When we are too set on our approach, we are not experimenting. When we are not experimenting, we are waiting for perfect, which means we are not evolving. It is worth it to be scrappy and keep trying things until we figure out what works.

(7) Cycles.

We need the right cycle time to get through the dip and figure out what would work at the end. If our cycles are too short, we will always be bootstrapping and never be able to get through the dip to the other side. If we dig in for the infinite long haul, we may stay too long and missed other valuable opportunities.

The challenge that we have going forward is figuring out what we should do with the incoming changes and how to change ourselves to respond. While how we do things might change but our mission should stay the same. Who can we teach? Who can we connect? Who can we elevate? We need to be supple and find a scale appropriate to do the work.

“Don’t fall in love with the medium, fall in love with the mission.”