So many models today include this concept, but what is a flywheel?
IRL, it is a massive -like with a lot of mass- wheel that keeps turning. Every internal combustion engine has one, where its function is to smooth out the motion originating from the cylinders pushing one at a time. There are other applications where the energy storage of a rotating wheel of high mass become more evident, like for example traditional pottery turntables, or the mechanical punching press.
The first one you won’t find in “Ghost”, as it wouldn’t make for any sexy shots. It consists on a large wheel, usually made of something heavy and that is placed under a seat, in a fashion where the potter can kick it and get it started. A shaft connects the wheel with a smaller one, where the potter works. The flywheel’s inertia cannot be quieted down by the pressure the potter puts on the clay. The second, is a large metal wheel, that is spun up, slowly, but surely by a smaller electric motor. A few horsepower are sufficient. Once the massive wheel is rotating at a respectable speed, the operator can release this accumulated energy by means of engaging a clutch that connects the flywheel to the press, being capable of piercing through a few millimeters of steel.
In analogy, in business, relentlessly pushing in one direction, in small increments, we get an imaginary flywheel turning, until the energy is inescapable.
It is important though, to identify two things:
Inevitability of consequences
Setting up your flywheel is not just about hard work and being relentless. Jim Collins puts it beautifully. It has to be about finding what is what if you do consistently, will get you to your success. Inevitably. A takes you to B, takes you to C. For example, if I consistently go to the gym for one hour every day, I will inevitably spend my time there working out, if I work out, then I will inevitably turn stronger. So, if your objective is to get stronger, you setup your flywheel to go every day to the gym for an hour. Setting up an inevitable string of consequences is key for the success of the flywheel. This is strategy.
Push in the right direction
Just like with the mechanical flywheel, small, but intelligent pushes are the ones that get the wheel moving. Pushing along the radius will won’t do anything, in fact, it will probably slow it down. In the same way, if I just get out of the house, and don’t end up at the gym, or I only stay five minutes, or if I just stay there watching YouTube; I won’t get stronger (are you listening, guy occupying the weight bench??). Pushing in the right direction is fundamental. This is execution.
Jim Collins goes into details in a follow-up book to “Good to Great”, he calls it a “monograph” because it is short, only 89 pages. It is called Turning the Flywheel: A Monograph to Accompany Good to Great
What small thing can you do relentlessly, that after long period of time will take you where you want to be?