Fluid vs. Mechanical
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Fluid vs. Mechanical • Posted: Dec 07, 2008 13:19:09Comments WelcomeVote CoolPhotoblogsPurchase a PrintShare

Within several previous postings, A Dented House of Cards, Harvest of Default, Sentiment, and Opportunity, I commented on the rigidity that characterizes many aspects of today's troubled world economy. Rigid long term contracts, lack of redundancy, lack of mechanisms to isolate and work around fault, long chain dependencies, a prevailing tendency to spread risk yet concentrate rewards, and failure to adapt and innovate are aspects of the mechanically rigid thinking that has brought world economic activity to a painful and possibly enduring slowdown.

Within each of those previous postings I also called attention to an alternative way of thinking, one that recognizes the more fluid, dynamic nature of things. The truth is that the world's economy has not stopped, mechanically frozen in place like a machine drained of lubrication. People are working. Goods and services are being created. What is decidedly different is that relationships are changing. Familiar rigid structures are breaking apart and new relationships are being established. We are all suddenly searching for new footing, new meaning, new significance to our economic existence.

Take a look at the image above. Several different layers of organization are present, each differentiated by temperature and density and momentum. The driving source of energy is receding over the horizon. Pools of residual heat radiate intermittently across the surface of the land. The various strata of air flow independently, seeking gravitational and thermal equilibrium, peace in the night.

Not unlike the air in that picture, people have begun flowing this way and that seeking to establish new alliances, new relationships of supply and demand, new situations of comforting equilibrium. But have the lessons been learned? Will the tendency be toward reestablishing systemic rigidity? Or will we begin to recognize the dynamic nature of the world we live in and adapt our thinking to the more fluid nature of things?

Monday, December 18th, 2006
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