Precession is a tool that informs my every day. It has very powerful application to business, work, life...
What is it?
Buckminster Fuller defined precession as the effect of bodies in motion on other bodies in motion.
Taken from Latin -to go before or preceed, and applied to astronomy - the slow, conical motion of the earth's axis of rotation, caused by the gravitational attraction of the sun and moon, and, to a smaller extent, of the planets, on the equatorial bulge of the earth; or mechanics -
the motion of the rotation axis of a rigid body, as a spinning top, when a disturbing torque is applied while the body is rotating such that the rotation axis describes a cone, with the vertical through the vertex of the body as axis of the cone, and the motion of the rotating body is perpendicular to the direction of the torque.
“The Sun and the Earth are both bodies in motion. Despite the 180 degree gravitational pull of the in-motion Sun upon the in-motion Earth, precession makes Earth orbit around the Sun in a direction that is at ninety degrees- i.e., at a right angle-to the direction of the Sun’s gravitational pull.” Critical Path by Buckminster Fuller, page 142.
Similarly, if we drop a stone into water, we get the ripples going out at ninety degree’s to the direction of the dropped stone.
One of Bucky’s favourite stories regarding precession was the story of the honey bee. Seemingly inadvertently, the honey bee goes about his business of gathering honey. At ninety degree’s to his body and his flight path, his legs gather pollen from one flower and “accidentally “ take this pollen to the next flower, resulting in cross pollination. The outcome of this seemingly inadvertent accidental activity is that the bee contributes enormously to life on earth. We get pollination, the growth of crops, the sustaining of life for humans and animals.
Precession is the action that occurs at ninety degree’s to bodies in motion.
“Nothing Happens Until Something Moves” Albert Einstein
Why is it important?
When anyone sets out to achieve a goal, there is always a precessional effect (PE), mostly unpredicted by the original action.
Therefore, if we want to achieve something, we can go for the goal and get the PE , or we can choose to go for the effect and get the goal. Let me explain.
Humans have been money seeking beings for a very long time. Like the honey bee, we go after money (honey). When we do this, what is our PE? Or more specifically, what is your PE? What falls out, at ninety degree’s, from your pathway of seeking money? (or what ever goal you are going for?)
For example, the military industrial complex has created many weapons to kill and destroy. The PE of the research, development and creation of these weapons has lead to an incredible increase in the technology available for man in society. The internet, mobile communications, advances in energy efficiency, are just some of the few PE that have come out of weaponary.
A few weeks ago I was at the Indy Car race on the Gold Coast. As I was walking down pit lane, watching the teams of 10 or so people, all of the equipment, tires, and computers all added up to a very expensive little set up, and there were 24 teams. The car was just the focal point of a massive back room support structure. It occurred to me that the PE of motor racing is the motor vehicle technological advancements that occur during racing. The aim is to win, and at ninety degree's to that, the engineers need to extract the maximum efficiency and speed from the car. Pit lane is simply a laboratory, when viewed through a precessional lens, for producing cars that go faster, better, longer, using less fuel, by applying the very best of technology.
What does this mean to you?
One way that I often teach the use of the precession tool is as follows.
Lets say that you are the manager in charge of a team, and your teams task is to achieve a 10% profit uplift every half year. You focus on the task of producing money, getting the best outcomes from your team. The PE is something other than the money or profit. It could be learning smarter, more innovative ways to retain, service and gain customers.
Now, lets suppose that we flip this and instead create a goal that is far bigger than the 10% uplift, that if we achieved that goal 10% would be a part of the PE. For example, we could choose to focus on becoming the very best, without exception, at customer service. If we achieved this, would a 10% uplift be a likely PE?
In Bucky’s language, he assumed that what humanity rated as “side effects” are nature’s main effects. He therefore adopted the PE side effects as his prime objective. He used this model as part of his self-disciplines, resolving to only ever do the greatest good for the greatest number of people, to demonstrate that if he did so, there would be money to finance him. Just as the honey bee did not need to earn a living, humans working at adding value to the healthy survival of humanity, doing what they were uniquely designed to do (What is Integrity), would not need to earn and living. The Universe would provide for them. (Maybe not in the way the Corporate Success model requires - fabulous financial success and lots of stuff, but they would have their primary needs met, and certainly the needs to complete their unique task.)
If you are not in motion, (we are always in motion by nature of being on earth, which is zooming very fast through space) if you are paralyzed by fear, depression or illness then precession will have a much smaller, or even insignificant effect. We simply must be in motion. In times of crisis and panic, it is easy to be rendered petrified. Simply getting up, into motion, doing something, will create a precessional effect. It doesn’t really matter what the doing is, as long as it is positive. Cleaning out the desk, garage or closet will create motion to instigate a precessional effect. And the act of getting into motion will break the paralysis.
Any integral leadership development plan employs the PE with consciousness to support the main effects of moving towards ever more sustainability for all of life on earth. An integral leader will consider precession as part of the overall strategy, which also includes the other principles, such as synergy and ephemeralization.Positive Deviants
often realise they have been intuitively employing precession as they seek solutions to problems.
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