I played basketball for a few years in junior high and high school. From that I know a lot about the game, but while watching a game the other day I saw the game in a way I hadn’t seen it before. I saw a system in equilibrium.

Each offensive player was guarded closely by a defensive player. The offense for each team was unable to change the equilibrium. Each time they went down the court they would pass the ball around a few times and shoot a three pointer. Something obvious became clear – the only way for change to happen is for the system to become unbalanced. One way that happens in basketball is by a player making a move to the basket past his defender and causing another player’s defender to stop him. This unbalances the system, leaving a player open.

Writing it out it seems so obvious. But despite years of playing basketball I hadn’t put it together. I thought the purpose of each play was to try to score but now I don’t think so. I think the purpose is to cause an imbalance and the score is a nice benefit of that – an instant feedback system for good work.

This applies everywhere. The way to cause change is to throw a system out of whack. This idea really helps me visualize the impact we can make in the world. Being able to see it in my mind serves as a great source of motivation.