Prelude: These ideas and concepts came from Brian Koppleman’s podcast “The Moment” where he interviews Marc Andreessen. This conversation hit me so hard, on so many different levels, that I listened to the whole thing twice, and now I’m going back and actually transcribing and writing down the ideas discussed to make sure I fully understand what he’s talking about. For personal reasons I’ll go into later, this shit hit me hard. Real hard.
They start by talking about what does it mean to be an abstract systems thinker?
Say you are going to build something and release it to the world. You might think that coming up with an idea for this new thing (which could be a product or a piece of art), and then creating it, would be the primary focus of your work. But you would, of course, be wrong.
That’s because you will eventually be launching this thing, whatever it is, into the world. Marc refers to “the world” as a “complex adaptive system,” which is a mathematical term that works nicely for describing the unpredictable non-linear world we live in. It has a lot of variables to deal with. Very difficult, but not impossible.
So when you release this thing into the world, the world changes in response to the product, re-calibrating itself. So to be an abstract systems thinker means you are able to think not only about how to create this thing, but you are also able to think about how it will interact with this complex adaptive system (i.e. the world).
He talks about how the difference between success and failure is often the ability to think abstractly about the “big picture.” It’s not enough to just create the thing, you must also think about how you will introduce this thing into the world.
How do you get the world to notice what you’ve made?