Rigid and Flexible


Engineering is a funny thing. We demand from design and materials opposite sounding qualities quite often. We’re after Jim Collins’ “and instead of or.” But this requires a very intentional plan,  a prepared team (or company) culture, and probably some tolerance for risk.

The thing that stretches various personality types is a tendency to favor one over the other and so you’ll have a Dominant personality that wants rigidity and action, but an Influencer who wants to flex indefinitely and not have anything with structure (that’s my tendency). The goal of being both in management really isn’t the goal,  the real goal is the balance between the two.

The two offer the benefit of a firm structure that can handle an earthquake. I’m building a guitar and the top wood needs to have flexible resonance and the bracing (that you can’t see from the outside) for rigid structure and frequency transfer. That way when you strike the guitar’s body percussively you get the pop off a drum,  but when you cause the strings to vibrate you can have a long sustaining chord. this is non-trivial, but it’s produced by trial and error and testing and experience.

A manager’s job is to push his team forward into the frontier with the supplies of a rigid planner and the resilience of a seasoned veteran who has learned to reset when something unexpected comes up. This surprise may be a new opportunity that was greater than the one you were planning on being willing to let go of.

– the MGMT