The butterfly is literally all about consequences. It describes how very small things can have great impacts, which means that we can’t just ignore the little things. Even the identification of the butterfly effect had significant impacts on how scientists and economists understood the world.
When Lorenz discussed his findings, it had a significant impact on the way people understood scientific predictions. Up until this point, science had used linear, deterministic models that assumed that it was easy to trace the path between a cause, A and an effect, B.
There was a generally held belief that scientists need not worry about minute details external to the phenomenon that was being studied, because it would have no impact on the relationship between A and B. The butterfly effect demonstrated that causes and effects do not have a purely linear relationship and do not exist independently to other things happening externally, making it difficult to accurately make predictions.
But the butterfly effect has consequences that fall outside of science as well. The butterfly effect is widely studied in business because it suggests that small initial actions can lead to much yield great rewards in the future.9 This suggests significant insights for marketing. It suggests small simple actions could be a catalyst for attracting lots of customers and becoming a successful business.
Additionally, the butterfly effect more accurately captures the complex market that we operate in. Marketplaces are complex systems with many interconnected pieces, especially in today’s modern world. Whether a business fails or succeeds may be attributed to very small details in their strategy.
Physician Dr. Rajagopal writes about the butterfly in competitive markets in his 2015 book.10 In the book, Dr. Rajagopal explains how successful businesses like Apple and Nestlé often approach the competitive market by introducing small changes that result in a major effect on the market.1 For example, think about the fact that Apple often only introduces small technological upgrades between their iPhone models, but still, each time they release a new model, the devices are often flying off the shelf. Since it is difficult for businesses to accurately predict how they will fare in a competitive market, it is a better idea to focus on small, controllable details.
With its focus on interconnectivity, the butterfly effect also indicates that an individual’s actions can have ramifications on a wider population. Just think about how much a political leader’s actions impact the state of the world. The butterfly effect asks us to be thoughtful with our decisions because we never know what the consequences of those decisions are. It can also be incredibly motivating, as it suggests that our actions DO matter in altering the trajectory of the world, no matter how small they might be. Such information is important when it comes to issues like climate change because people often believe that their individual actions will not have a big enough impact on carbon emissions. The butterfly effect suggests that while a small action, like choosing to use a reusable straw, may not have a linear effect on carbon emissions, but that it could still alter the trajectory of climate change in some way.