Stripping away redundancy
Every commercial airplane has a black box. A flight data recorder, which has the ability to dissect what went wrong in the aftermath of a crash.
And what makes it so indestructible is the alloy typically found in furnaces, gas turbine blades, car exhaust systems and other extreme heat environments. Flight parameters are engraved onto the alloy throughout the trip, ensuring survival no matter what.
The running joke, of course, is if the only thing that survives is the black box, why wouldn’t they just make the whole plane out of the black box?
But any engineer will be quick to tell you, the airplane would be too heavy, too expensive and too difficult to fly if it were made of heavy high strength steel like the flight recorders.
And yet, the premise of the joke is still significant. Because it makes a strategic point about simplicity, focus, efficiency, leverage and labor intensity. About how in an existing system, we can strip away the redundancies, extract the few essentials we need and then rebuild from there.
Like the popular boy band with only one real star who inevitably goes out on his own to build his empire and become ten times more successful than he could have done as part of an ensemble. Timberlake was the black box that survived the crash.
The point is, we’re all in search of that indestructible alloy. And sometimes that means letting go of the other parts that have outlived their usefulness. Because in every system of which we are a part, there are essentials, and then there are free peanuts. Which are delicious and full of protein, but when you’re crashing into a mountain at six hundred miles per hour, it’s smarter and safer to seek to stay near the black box.
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What essentials are worth extracting and rebuilding from?
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