The Power of Models: Solving the World’s Problems One Diagram at a Time

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Throughout human history, we’ve witnessed the incredible power of models. From the earliest cave paintings depicting hunting strategies to modern blueprints constructing towering skyscrapers, models have been instrumental in our quest to understand and solve complex problems. They’ve transcended the confines of time and culture, becoming a universal language that speaks to the human intellect. In today’s fast-paced world, where our challenges are more intricate and interwoven than ever, models remain a lighthouse of clarity and insight.

Consider this remarkable story:

  • A client.
  • A friend.
  • Hailing from the streets of the Bronx in New York, alongside a few childhood companions.
  • Achieved prosperity and success against the odds.

With wealth in their hands, they harboured a noble ambition—to rescue the young men of the Bronx caught in the tangle of gangs and violence. These teenagers, deeply entrenched in their gang affiliations, seemed almost impossible to rescue. But our client, armed with an understanding of the profound impact of models, embarked on a mission to change their lives.

His challenge was monumental—convince these young men, bound by loyalty to their gangs, to leave behind the path they tread. He reached out to them, seeking to disrupt their life’s trajectory with the help of a model. And this is where the power of choreography and a great model took center stage.

Sitting down with just a handful of these troubled youths, our client began his intervention. He drew a simple yet profound model that showcased the stark contrast between their current reality and a future fraught with peril. “This is you today,” he would say, pointing to one end of the model, “and where are you going to be in 10 years?” The trajectory was grim, marked by a relentless descent, represented by a menacing red line.

Intriguingly, some of these young men would respond defiantly, proclaiming their lack of fear when it came to death. They saw death as an inevitable consequence of their lifestyle. But here, our client choreographed a persuasive argument, harnessing the power of his visual model to change their lives.

He responded with empathy, recounting his own experiences and acknowledging that he once walked in their shoes. He candidly admitted that, in his youth, he wasn’t afraid of death either. However, he unearthed a deeper, more chilling reality: the myriad hardships, losses, and suffering that would plague their lives before they ever reached that point of no return.

His words resonated with brutal honesty, vividly depicting the arduous journey ahead. “You’ll endure injuries, losses, and carnage,” he would say. “All the while, you’ll watch others lead extraordinary lives filled with happiness, success, and fulfilment. And at some indefinable juncture, you’ll wonder why you’re not among them.”

“You’ll question why those on the green line enjoy lives of abundance while you remain trapped in the vicious cycle of violence and despair. But, sadly, you’ll also discover that, at a certain juncture, there is still time to leap. You’ll be locked into your fate with no escape. Your only chance to ascend to that green line, to forge a different path, begins now.”

Herein lay the critical decision, the moment of choice that could reshape their destinies. Our client’s model illuminated the way forward, a path leading to employment, stable housing, the pursuit of genuine relationships, and the chance to become important to others for who they are, not their capacity for violence. But this path required unwavering commitment and evidence that they would take that leap.

Remarkably, this simple yet profound model became an undeniable catalyst for change. It compelled some of these young men to seize the opportunity. They chose to jump onto the green line, demonstrating their commitment to transformation. In response, our client and his friends invested their money and faith in these individuals’ potential for change.

I was asked recently if models can change the world. And I genuinely believe they can.  

Suppose we can communicate a complex problem, gain clarity on the context and commitment to achieving an outcome. In that case, we can catalyze transformation and resolve some of the world’s most pressing issues. 

Models genuinely are magic.

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