“Asynchrony – relationships occurring at unrelated times – offers the opportunity to thrive amidst change and turbulence.”
TASK AT HAND: This week I’m thinking about the concept of asynchrony. Asynchrony is a common term in computer science where it refers to events occurring at different times that are independent of the primary program. In biology, asynchrony pertains to the ability of a species to fluctuate in their evolution over time. As Bluthgen and colleagues have shown, asynchrony affords animal or plant communities the ability to fluctuate beyond biological diversity (Nico Bluthgen, Nadja K. Simons, Kirsten Jung, et al. (2016) Land use imperils plant and animal community stability through changes in asynchrony rather than diversity. Nature Communications 7, 1069. doi:10.1038/ncomms10697). The authors write: “The more the species in an ecosystem fluctuate in their evolution over time, the less they are likely to falter.” Think of these fluctuations as asynchronous behaviours.
So, what is the relevance of asynchrony for us here on the Sunday Surgical Scrub?
I define the term of asynchrony as relationships occuring at different times. These relationships may not be apparent because of their disparate temporal profiles; i.e., they do not occur at predictable times. Like a plant that can fluctuate its uptake of solar energy depending on its external conditions, your ability to act asynchronously with your environment can provide you with a strategic advantage when encountering complications or conflicts.
For example, take a situation where someone submits a work or community proposal and that proposal is met with resistance or outright denial. A synchronous response would entail countering with similar resistance amidst negotiation. This is a reasonable approach and appropriate in some circumstances. However, one could also try responding with an asynchronous strategy such as delayed deliberation. This will create a window of time that may, in turn, change the circumstances of how your proposal is met. Please note that this is not simply procrastination or delay for the sake of delay. Instead, you will alter your plan or proposal over a longer timeline so as to align with changing factors that may improve your chances of succeeding in your ultimate pitch.
Take another example; let us assume you have multiple investments and the market bears significant losses. A synchronous response would be to pull out and sell before you incur further losses. Instead, an asynchronous response would entail diversifying your portfolio to have a more robust defense against further market losses. By diversifying, you are responding with a relationship that will be most relevant to a later time frame when the market changes.
As you consider the varied applications of strategy, be on the lookout for the opportunity to utilize asynchrony. Look for diversity and relationships over courses of time that may appear to be unrelated. This will afford you greater stability towards success in your overall goals.
MEDICINE & MACULA: Many thanks to Don Hutcheson for having me on the fantastic podcast, Discover Your Talent–Do What You Love. I was featured on the episode, More Effective Decision Making, that went live Friday, June 2.
GRATIS: This past week, on Tuesday June 6th, I had the privilege of being part of a terrific panel of vitreoretinal surgeons in Dallas-Fort Worth looking at complicated surgical cases. There were terrific videos and discussion and I had a great time seeing outstanding colleagues. I contributed a video on proliferative vitreoretinopathy which, as many of you know, is a serious academic interest of mine.
My best to you,