Ep129: The Butterfly Effect and Business

25 minutes

Sometimes, our actions today ripple out and have long term effects. We know this. But it’s wild to think that what happens in 2019 might cause a Christmas tree shortage in 2030. 

Why is that important for business? 

The 2008 recession is far enough in the past that we think of it mostly in abstract terms. But for the Christmas Tree industry, the effects are very real and very current. https://whyy.org/articles/you-can-thank-the-great-recession-for-2019s-christmas-tree-shortage/. And that gets us thinking – how often in your business is there a financial cliff that you can see coming a decade away? How is the Butterfly Effect going to show up in your business? What are you doing today that is going to affect your business in the following years or quarters?

Can you look forward into the future and see what’s coming? And when you know there is a cliff of some kind coming, what can you do now to mitigate the damage? Diversification, obviously, is an option. Anticipating your customers needs if things go sideways can help. Planning for the future, like Eliot is doing with his studio (https://soheresmystory.com/ep125-office-space-and-your-future/), can also help. But the value of this conversation might not be in its predictive abilities, but in helping us prepare to not be surprised. You might not be able to predict the details of upcoming crises (and you probably shouldn’t spend a lot of time trying to), but you can have a plan, knowing that another recession or obstacle will eventually show up. 

And this is the love-hate relationship we can have with planning. It is important to scan out into the future and think about what you want more or less of; to think about what matters to you. But when we plan around the idea that we can predict the future, especially as we increase the distance from the present, we may not be doing ourselves a service. The further out you go into the future, the more you have to leave room for unexpected things. 

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