A Spiral Method Writing Session

If you want to see what my Spiral Method sessions look like, below is the raw, unedited zeroth draft for my article “Strategies for Stability.” The numbers match the answers to the corresponding questions (e.g. A1 is the answer to Q1). The starred items (*) are ideas that popped into my head, not directly related to any question.

Nugget: People change in order to remain the same. That is, we will change something less important in order to maintain something that is more important.

Q1. How does changing help stay the same?

Q2. Can you give a few examples?

Q3. How can I keep something stable?

Q4. Is this the only reason to change?

Q5. Is this the only way to stay the same?

A1. To keep something the same, we change less important things that either isolate the important thing from change or absorb the change.

A horse’s gait changes when the pressure on its bones reaches one third of the pressure it can handle. The gait change reduces the pressure.

Q6. What about as the horse slows down? Why change gait then?

Q7. Are isolating and absorbing the only reasons for change?

Q8. Are they the only strategies for stability?

  • Stability is a problem only when some force acts to cause a change. We can maintain things indefinitely if no force is acting on them.

Q9. How can I use this principle to reduce resistance?

A2. Examples: Drop three low-priority projects in order to sustain progress on high-priority projects.

Rewrite software to take advantage of new technology in order to maintain responsiveness and growth.

Temporarily stop looking for a job, and instead upgrade skills, in order to maintain marketability.

Lower prices in order to maintain market share.

A8: Another way to maintain stability: Adapt to changes in the environment, so that the environment supports the new configuration — or at least doesn’t threaten it.

Three ways to keep something stable:

  • Isolate
  • Absorb
  • Adapt
  • Gain or maintain something we value even more.

A4. I believe that the only reason we change is to maintain something more important.

Q10. What about when I change jobs in order to get a raise? That isn’t about maintaining anything.

A5. The only way to maintain something in the face of a threatening force is to change something less important — something that will isolate the more important thing from teh change, absorb the force and dissipate it, or adapt to the change in the environment.

A8. As far as I can tell, these are the only three ways:

Absorb: Convert the force into less harmful forms or more useful forms.

Apply some energy to revert the environment. This takes energy that you could have used for something else. I see that as a form of adaptation.

Absorb (from the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary): Include or take (a thing) in so that it no longer has separate existence; incorporate. Gain energy from and reduce the intensity of.

Adapt (from SOED): Fit, adjust. Alter or modify to fit a new use, new conditions.

Isolate (from SOED): Place or set apart or alone; separate from or unconnected with other things.

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