Felicite Moorman

The Nature of Quicksand (or Man, I miss my Senior Science Class)

In Uncategorized on December 14, 2011 at 2:41 am

Quicksand is a non-Newtonian fluid. To understand what this means, it helps to understand what a Newtonian fluid is, of course.  Newtonian fluids obey certain rules that most generalized fluids obey, such as the tendency to flow regardless of force.  No matter how hard you hit it, it still flows.  Water is a Newtonian fluid.  Quicksand, not so much.

Quicksand, when undisturbed, often appears to be solid.  It looks as if it can handle the weight, the pressure, if you will, of a Mac Truck.  But the fact is, a very, very minor stressor, less than 1%, will cause a sudden decrease in viscosity, or thickness.  This means that what appeared solid and stable, is instantly liquid in nature, allowing that Mac Truck to sink into near oblivion.  The water and sand that make up the quicksand then separate and suddenly the viscosity seems to increase, rendering the Mac Truck apparently stuck.  In order to move in quicksand, a person would have to apply sufficient pressure on the compacted sand to re-introduce enough water to liquefy the quicksand back to the viscosity into which he fell.  Sounds simple enough, but that amount of force is the same amount of force required to lift a medium sized car.  It would appear that brute force is not the most practical way to get out of quicksand, much less make waves.

Business can be very much like quicksand.  Most everyone has experienced a moment, cycle, or project where their business behaved just this way.  Just 1% stress and it opened up for all to see the sinking Mac Truck of that moment, then prolonged the travesty by becoming a sticky, torpor inducing  mire.  Brute force and continued struggle rarely offer release.  What did you do? What do you do? What will you do?

Accelerating Change, Creating Momentum, and Embracing Innovation

In Uncategorized on December 13, 2011 at 3:05 am

This blog is dedicated to exploring methodologies for accelerating change, creating momentum, and embracing innovation, specifically in business, but also applicable personally.  Having created strategies for corporations during the worst of the real estate crisis, it occurred to me finally that we were attempting to make waves in quicksand.  In settling in to the crisis and forfeiting the struggle, the strategies necessary to change the circumstances would become clear.  The strategy was never to begin struggling again.  The strategy always began with acknowledging the nature of quicksand.  The substrate had changed, imperceptibly, and the setting required new behaviors.  It was a pained but rich learning environment, where risk aversion had no place and everything was on the line more often than not.  Momentum, change, and innovation were welcome and priceless.  The waves were made, momentum regained, not with the same struggle, but with yet more change.


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