Flux budget and predictability footprint

I’ve been thinking about this idea of the flux budget as a measure of capacity to navigate complexity of the environment. With a high flux budget, I can thrive in massively volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (yep, VUCA) spaces. With a low flux budget, a slightest sight of unpredictability triggers stress and suffering. If we imagine that the flux budget is indeed a thing, then we can look at organizations –and ourselves — and make guesses about how the respective flux budgets are managed.

Reflecting on my own habits, I am recognizing that to manage my flux budget, I have to deliberately work for it. To peer into the abyss of unpredictable, it appears that I need to be anchored to a sizable predictable environment. I ruthlessly routinize my day. From inbox zero to arranging shirts, to my exercise schedule, and even the allotment of guilty pleasures (like watching a TV show or the evening tea with cookies), it’s all pretty well-organized and neatly settled. Observing me in my natural routine habitat without context might conjure up depictions of thoughtless robots. Yet this is what allows me to have the presence to think deeply, to reflect, and patiently examine ideas without becoming attached to them.

This reaching for the comfort of routine has obvious consequences. How many beautiful, turning-point moments have I missed while sticking to my routine? How many times has the routine itself led me away from insights that would have otherwise been on my path? Or worse yet, imposed an unnecessary burden on others? Let’s call this phenomenon the predictability footprint: the whole of the consequences of us creating a predictable environment to which to anchor in the face of complexity.

I am pretty excited to be learning more about the relationship between flux budget and predictability footprint. The whole notion of the footprint (which I borrowed from carbon footprint) speaks to the second-order effects of us seeking solid ground in the flux of today’s world — and how that in turn might create more flux. A while back, I wrote about leading while sleepwalking, which seems like a decent example of a vicious cycle where a leader’s predictability footprint increases the overall state of flux, placing more demand on an organization’s flux budget.

These framings also help me ask new interesting questions. What is my predictability footprint? How might it affect my flux budget? What are the steps I can take to reduce my predictability footprint?

2 thoughts on “Flux budget and predictability footprint”

  1. Interesting concepts. It triggers thoughts a few questions for me:

    1. How do parents manage this cycle when raising children and creating stability, predictability environments while the nature of children tends to be highly unpredictable (at least little ones)?

    2. How do different VUCA spaces consume your “flux budget” at different rates? Our dispositions may make us better suited for certain types of volatility versus others.

    1. I love where this is taking you!

      The notion of parenting as this cycle is so generative — thank you. I am picturing this image of the predictability budget/footprint of both parents and children in a dance, pushing and tugging at each other.

      The idea of how flux budget is consumed at different rates depending on a situation and on individual (and maybe collective/cultural?) disposition also sounds really interesting, and worth exploring. There’s some work around allostatic load that seems somehow relevant.

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