The Power of Slack: Lessons from Pinterest's Success and Nature's Efficiency


Hatched by Glasp

Aug 06, 2023

4 min read


The Power of Slack: Lessons from Pinterest's Success and Nature's Efficiency


The idea of collecting has always fascinated humans. Whether it's sentimental items or practical resources, the act of gathering and organizing holds a special appeal. This innate desire for collection and curation has played a significant role in the success of platforms like Pinterest. However, Pinterest's triumph goes beyond just catering to our collecting tendencies. It also highlights the importance of efficiency and the often-overlooked concept of slack. By exploring these two seemingly contradictory ideas, we can uncover valuable insights that can be applied to various aspects of our lives.

The Value of Slack:

Efficiency is often seen as the holy grail of productivity. We strive to optimize our time and resources, believing that constant busyness equates to success. However, the concept of slack challenges this notion. Slack refers to the surplus capacity that allows for responsiveness and flexibility. It is the time when we are not fully occupied, giving us room to adapt, experiment, and think ahead.

In the animal kingdom, ants provide an intriguing example of the benefits of slack. In an ant colony, only a portion of the population is actively working at any given time. The remaining ants are not idle but rather on standby, ready to contribute when additional tasks arise. This seemingly "lazy" behavior is essential for the survival of the colony. If all the ants were constantly working, they would be too exhausted to handle emergencies. By reserving slack time, ants ensure they can respond effectively to unforeseen situations.

Similarly, in our own lives and organizations, slack plays a vital role. Without it, we become slaves to efficiency, unable to handle new tasks without dropping existing ones. Slack allows us to be both efficient and effective. Efficiency means doing something with minimum waste, while effectiveness means doing the right something. By embracing slack, we create space for reinvention, experimentation, and the ability to respond to changing circumstances. It becomes the lubricant of growth and the breeding ground for innovation.

Pinterest's Success Story:

Pinterest has leveraged the power of slack to become one of the most successful social media platforms today. Its interface and user experience provide an optimal layout for collecting and organizing ideas. However, what sets Pinterest apart is its recognition of the need for slack. Users are not bombarded with a constant stream of content or overwhelmed with tasks to complete. Instead, Pinterest allows for open space, enabling users to engage with new ideas and inspiration as they come.

This approach resonates with the human desire for sentimentality and practicality in collecting. Pinterest understands that true collection is not just about accumulation but also about the joy of discovery and the ability to curate our interests. By providing slack time within the platform, Pinterest encourages users to explore, mull over information, and make the right trade-offs. It's a reminder that we are more productive when we don't try to be productive all the time.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Embrace slack in your daily life: Set aside time each day or week to reflect, brainstorm, and explore new ideas. Allow yourself to be underemployed for a while to gain clarity and direction. This slack time will help you make better decisions and ensure you're on the right trajectory.
  • 2. Foster a culture of slack in your organization: Encourage your team members to have downtime and avoid constantly being busy. Provide opportunities for experimentation, creative thinking, and learning. Slack allows for innovation and the ability to respond effectively to challenges.
  • 3. Balance efficiency and effectiveness: Remember that being efficient doesn't always mean being effective. Prioritize tasks and focus on doing the right things rather than trying to do everything at once. Give yourself the freedom to adapt and change course when necessary.


Pinterest's success and the concept of slack teach us valuable lessons about the importance of balance in our lives and organizations. By understanding that efficiency and effectiveness are not the same, we can create space for growth, innovation, and reinvention. Embracing slack allows us to think ahead, make better decisions, and ultimately find fulfillment in our endeavors. So, let us not fear the moments of idleness but rather see them as opportunities for growth and success.

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