The Wheel

The Wheel

Historians believe the wheel originated in Mesopotamia sometime around 3,500 BC. At its most primitive the wheel relied on its solidity to perform its function. Over time its function has remained broadly unchanged but the way the wheel has been constructed has evolved and its effectiveness greatly improved. With something as simple as the wheel still evolving the following parallels may provide food for thought.

  1. “It's easy to think of the spokes (in a modern bicycle wheel) as columns supporting the wheel and helping it retain its shape. But, the support that the wheel receives is created by pulling the spokes towards the hub of the wheel (tension) rather than pushing out from the hub (compression). The pulling of the spokes toward the centre of the hub is what gives the bicycle wheel its strength”. Paul Doherty - Co-director of the Exploratorium Teacher Institute

    understand what is at the heart of a business and build on that

    Our consultancy model acknowledges that just as the wheel has changed the way it gains its strength so too has modern business. Organisations sometimes have to get back to basics, refocus intensely on what lies at the heart of their business and ensure that they are connected to their people and customers in the most direct and effective way. In business leadership terms this is about creating a strong common purpose which draws people in to the vision of the organisation and bonds them together with an efficient infrastructure capable of harnessing their energy and strengths.

  2. “Minimizing the weight of the wheels is extremely important in bicycle design. Why does weight matter? Each time you push the pedals, you have to accelerate the weight of the wheel both forward and around its centre”. Paul Doherty - Co-director of the Exploratorium Teacher Institute

    keep the business purposeful and nimble

    Ensuring that the organisation is responsive but competitive means it must aim to be as lean and agile as possible. As a response to change, instead of changing infrastructure businesses sometimes add infrastructure. This may be making them cumbersome, less competitive and less able to develop and grow.

  3. "Wheels, from what I remember, can hold about 400 times their own weight on a regular basis and they won't collapse until roughly 700 times their own weight, which makes them one of the strongest man-made structures on the planet," Paolo Salvagione – bicycle maker

    for strength and durability build by design, not by default

    Strength and durability can be obtained from quite light weight organisational structures. The trick is to ensure that the component parts are well formed, precisely aligned and properly supported.