Design, Education, Social Impact

Thinking like a Trimtab

With an estimated 400,000 people recently in the streets of New York for the People’s Climate March, it is becoming ever more apparent that significant efforts must be made across society to confront climate change. But how do we go about making these large-scale changes?

2013 Fuller Challenge Juror and Buckminster Fuller expert Amy Edmondson applies Fuller’s dictum to be a trimtab to the challenge of taking on climate change:

Inventor and futurist Buckminster Fuller, with whom I worked years ago as a geodesic engineer, pointed out that anyone can act as a trim tab, in part by recognizing the potential downstream influence of small, high-leverage actions pointing in the right new direction. The trim tab’s tiny movement has leverage. The right shift in the right place at the right time.

Business leaders must recognize the trim tab principle. Don’t wait for the rest of the industry to act first . Just get started. Contribute, through action, to building pressure that pulls on the rudder and ultimately changes the course of the ocean liner. Of course when you’re changing social systems, it’s hard to know the precise mechanics of the influence your business actions can and will have. But it’s a given that your business won’t have any influence at all if no changes are made.

In this piece in the Huffington Post, Val Jon Harris dives into more detail about what exactly a trimtab is, and how we can fully embody the idea(l):

A Trimtab moves directly into the currents that oppose it. It actually uses opposition, adversity, and resistance to accomplish its goal. A Trimtab relies on the forces pressing against it to leverage its power. Using opposition in this way is uncommon yet extremely powerful. A few questions now…How do you engage with opposition? What new possibilities might arise if you shift your mindset to embracing resistance instead of fighting it or ignoring it?

Read more: Take A Trim Tab Approach To Climate Change at, The Power of “Trimtabs”: What Bucky Fuller Taught Me About Human Greatness at the Huffington Post