Ride The Wave

As a kid, I was fascinated by oscillators. Not in a way that I actually understood what they were or how to use them (I didn’t say I was smart), but in the “what if I were a mad scientist with a laboratory” way (I was creative and curious).  How cool was it that you could take stuff from the real world, run it into some tool, and then understand the mysterious output to reshape reality around you? “Pinky, are you pondering what I’m pondering?”

(Non-scientifically) oscillators measure fluctuations around a mid-point. Because you can look at a signal over time, it’s different than just watching the classroom wall clock make the loop from 12 to 12. Watching an oscillator was like taking that loop and stretching it out over a timeline. It felt different.

We think a lot about cycles in nature, business, sales, accounting, and even regular life – but we don’t often think about them as waves. It’s not just ups and downs making the rounds – it’s the swells and crashes.

Waves are the STORY of the cycle. There’s hope and dreaming, and then there’s fear and loathing. Every business is based around telling a story based on where the client is in some cycle.

Before YOU came along – THEY have uncertainty. THEY can’t understand where they are, not really at least – not without YOU. YOU bring a process, YOU bring a definition of risk. YOU quantify the uncertainty to them so that THEY can grasp it. Then, you BOTH take an action TOGETHER and the cycle continues. A business relationship is formed.

So long as you’re doing your job well (and hopefully for the right reasons), you can use your process to explain, with the benefits of hindsight, why future uncertainty turned into past certainty. You’ll even use that new certainty to update your current risk models to improve upon your story.

That’s the magic of the oscillator. It gives us the rules for the story. Everything starts in uncertainty (no way to make sense of it), then someone applies a process to it (quantifies the risk), and then A. shows how the process makes sense of what happened in hindsight (rearview mirror), and B. offers the rationale for using that process going forward (look ahead through the windshield).

We just have to help people ride the wave – we get to be the mad scientist, they get to be the captivated kid. Lead them.