May 11, 2022

Approaching equilibrium

Systems of all kinds can persist for long periods, staying more or less the same.   Not static, but always hovering around some equilibrium value, even as they grow.

This happens because of feedback.  A change in the equilibrium value triggers a change in the flow of something that affects that value.   Like your central heating thermostat, which uses feedback on the actual room temperature to regulate the flow of hot water to your radiators in order to maintain a temperature that feels comfortable to you.

A business is a system too.  We’re usually looking to grow it, exponentially if we can.  We don’t often think of it as something we want to keep in equilibrium.

But perhaps we should.

A business is a system for making and keeping promises.  That means that whatever else we might like to see, the important equilibrium value is how many promises we keep – or perhaps even how many we exceed.

If we all made that our thermostat there’s a good chance that a better kind of exponential growth would take care of itself.