The vulcanization of rubber by American Charles Goodyear in the 19th century. Unintentionally, he "places a piece of latex covered with sulphur flour on a coal stove. The product eventually caught fire." Disappointed by his clumsiness, he throws the result out of the window into the snow. "The next morning, when he picks up the object, he discovers that the material has great elasticity." The inventor's temper, a detail in itself, had major consequences.
In 1919, 2 brothers, Adolf and Rudolf Dassler, started a shoe company. During World War II, a misunderstood remark from one to the other would have major far-reaching consequences: the creation of two global competitors, Puma and Adidas.
In 2004, three Canadians founded Snowdevil, a company that planned to sell snowboards on the internet. However, these entrepreneurs quickly realized that no software existed to easily create an online shop. So, they decided to design their own, which was much more modular and adapted to the requirements of their business. A software so good that it eventually became the main product in 2006, under the identity of Shopify.
Do these three examples merely rest on coincidence? Not quite. The will to seek further, explore boundaries and break them, undoubtedly helped the above-mentioned entrepreneurs to become successful business leaders.
Bigger wings, allowing you to fly higher and faster. And who knows, assisted by AI technology to make the most of favorable winds. That way, as an "entrepreneurial butterfly", you might get very far, perhaps with relatively limited resources. This is the world we live in, with its strengths and its flaws. A world where knowledge is shared in unprecedented ways.
Everything is first and foremost about self-awareness and adaptability. Today more than ever, a detail, a small-scale initiative can have relatively quick and massive consequences for those who can consciously deal with the changing environment. This does require a certain mindset: the ability to look at the environment with a curious eye. We often experience it with Interim Managers who, through their temporary presence in ever-changing situations, have that curious outlook that can trigger innovative ideas, processes and projects.
Not surprisingly, the butterfly effect is also put forward today by social entrepreneurs promoting more socially responsible policies of entrepreneurship. Where fatalism in the face of increasingly ominous news around climate, war, inflation, can lead to a certain kind of dejected immobilism, it is more fundamental than ever to show that small adjustments can have big consequences. To turn the tide in the public interest.
Business leader or Interim Manager, maybe you are also looking for that one rare butterfly that helps you suddenly change your mind. Where can you find them?
Among employees first and foremost. They know the company, may not dare to proactively express their opinion on a different approach, a small change in policy or in strategy. Or maybe you should also listen more thoroughly to that one more “bothersome employee” who does not easily "nod yes" but always has his own opinion. Why not organize a "butterfly effect day" in your company?
Of course, the opinions of your clients are also important. And even more so the ones of ... former customers. Preferably inquire early or else afterwards about their views of what could or could have been done differently. Who knows, one lost customer might bring ten new ones.
Stakeholders, neighbors, the government, ... any person, company or association can bring that unexpected new breeze that could bring you to the other side of the world with numerous new projects. So be alert, who knows, as you read this, you may have just started the first day of the rest of your life. Another life.