Monday, December 14, 2009

Iceberg Theory of Change

Longtime blog readers will remember this, but documenting it for posterity…

A few years ago, I saw a documentary about oil rigs in the North Atlantic. The biggest enemy of oil rigs are icebergs. In a confrontation between the two, the iceberg is going to win.

So, oil rigs have an elaborate anti-iceberg defense mechanism that involves radars and tugboats. Once they detect an iceberg coming, they send out a tugboat interceptor, which has three options. One is to try and blow the iceberg to smithereens.

The other two (literally lassoing the iceberg or throwing the engines in reverse in front of the iceberg to create wake) are designed to alter the course of the iceberg by a miniscule amount. However, at a distance of 300 miles, a deviation of a few degrees or so will make the iceberg miss the rig by 200 miles or something ridiculous like that (the mathematicians out there can give you the exact numbers, but you get the idea.)

So, what’s the point? Well, the sooner you see the need for change and the sooner you make the change, the easier it is going to be. It’s easier to change the course of an iceberg by 1 degree than 30 degrees, which is what you’d need to do as it gets closer to you.

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