Let’s say that a person is extremely punctual. For 15 years, he has always been home at six-o-clock. So good was his punctuality, that the household used his arrival to set the time on their antique grandfather clock.
One day, if the time was 6:10 PM, and this person didn’t show up, his family would flip into panic mode and drown in worry. They are so used to him arriving at 6 PM, that they now fear the worst. When he does show up safe and sound, he will return to a distraught family in absolute tears – all for merely being 10 minutes late.
A person’s unwavering punctuality seems like an obvious source of strength and reliability. But it revealed to be fragile to the smallest change in plan. If the person wasn’t as punctual – say he came home at around 6 PM everday, his family wouldn’t have been concerned if he turned up at 6:15.
We often fail to account for how systems that are predictabile, orderly, and homogenous, are fragile to the smallest disruptions. Robust systems are those that have enough inherent chaos to absorb sources of disturbance without going thrown out of whack.