Sticky Notes of Thoughts

…because some thoughts are worth remembering

On Concept Vocabulary: Trim Tab

2015-12-06 10.33.50

Applying a domain specific term to our daily life can serve as a good metaphor.

I like the idea of trim tab, I am not a pilot, mechanical engineer or know anything about sailing. Trim tab is a small rudder on a rudder. In a boat, the trim tab can increase speed, reduce fuel consumption and hull stress, and more. Buckminster Fuller famously said (or at least his tombstone read), “Call me Trim Tab” because a strategically placed small part can be an effective lever to move something much larger than itself.

Something hit me very hard once, thinking about what one little man could do. Think of the Queen Mary—the whole ship goes by and then comes the rudder. And there’s a tiny thing at the edge of the rudder called a trim tab.

It’s a miniature rudder. Just moving the little trim tab builds a low pressure that pulls the rudder around. Takes almost no effort at all. So I said that the little individual can be a trim tab. Society thinks it’s going right by you, that it’s left you altogether. But if you’re doing dynamic things mentally, the fact is that you can just put your foot out like that and the whole big ship of state is going to go.

So I said, call me Trim Tab.

~ Buckminster Fuller
In essence, it is the individual version of Margaret Mead’s “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world,” quote. And let us not forget the last part of her quote which is often truncated, but essential in capturing both Mead’s and Fuller’s spirit: “Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
We can, and we must.
Photo: Ala Moana Beach Park, Honolulu, Hawaii


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This entry was posted on December 29, 2015 by in Management, Quotes, Vocabulary and tagged , , , , , .
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