I like to run as my cardiovascular exercise, and I live in the perfect climate (for me, at least) to do it. I took a couple weeks off from running and rode my bicycle instead.
My front wheel caught a flat, for the second time in three weeks, Saturday morning.
I don’t know if the bike shop installed the inner tube incorrectly (I found a tiny puncture in it that led to the flat), if the tire allows for too much space that lets debris get into the inner tube, if I’ve just had bad bike luck, or what. What I do know is I couldn’t get a flat tire via running.
Though I like riding my bike, I’ve always preferred running. One reason is there are half as many failure points: when cycling, you have your body plus your bike to take care of. When running, there’s only your body to be concerned with (though in fairness, running is a lot more strenuous on the body than riding a bicycle).
When running, it’s just you and the terrain. If anything goes wrong. It’s on your person — which probably isn’t a good thing — but your body will let you know, quickly.
As far as setups go, it can’t get any leaner than that.
Every new element added to a situation — a bicycle, car, person, weather — that must cooperate or perform for your mission to be completed is what we call a “failure point.”
When driving cross-country, your car is a failure point. On a bike ride, the bike is a failure point. At a wedding, the bride and groom are both failure points. Every failure point is a chance for everything to stop working.
On the surface, it would seem wise, then, to keep things small and lean. Fewer elements = fewer possibilities for it all falling apart. This is the exact reason why some people start a business working solo and never recruit help: no additional people means no intruder can mess it up.
That doesn’t explain how the Amazons or Apples or Wal-Marts of the world work though. They have thousands of moving pieces in their operations — and the stores always open, the products ship on time, the websites work… How do they do it?
They insulate themselves against the failure points.
By having backup systems, guides and processes that anyone can access and follow, and multiple capable people for every role, no one element — person, place or thing — can stop the machine from running smoothly.
A professional cyclist (or even a seasoned weekend rider) carries tools that can fix a flat tire quickly. If an Apple Store employee calls out sick for their shift, another available employee is called in. All possible failures are anticipated and prepared for.
Anything that pops up that makes them feel they weren’t prepared, they get prepared for so it doesn’t happen again. This is reflected in policy updates and adjustments to systems. Gyms, for example, now have rules about photographing other members with your phone. We didn’t need that rule ten years ago. Restaurants now offer “contactless” delivery where you never even see the person who brings your food. In an on-point organization, no failure point is hit more than once.
You reduce and eliminate your failure points the same way.
1) When you run into something that you clearly weren’t prepared for, note what it was and why it surprised you. And don’t let it happen again.
2) Continually update your systems to reflect the changes going on around you. Don’t get caught living in yesterday while everyone else has turned the page to today.
3) Ask yourself where and how you would attack you if you were an enemy or competitor. You know your weak points better than anyone. Don’t rationalize them or act like they don’t exist. Work On Your Game!
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