One of the many excerpts I've saved from Peter Bevelin's excellent All I Want To Know Is Where I'm Going To Die So I'll Never Go There, and a great addition to a checklist or compilation of mental models:
Munger "Really big effects, lollapalooza effects, will often come only from large combinations of factors. For instance, tuberculosis was tamed, at least for a long time, only by routine combined use in each case of three different drugs."
"This is the way you win big in the world -- by getting two or three forces working together in the same direction."
Seeker "Since I have lost big, tell me more about how I can win big."
Munger "Extreme success is likely to be caused by some combination of the following factors:
a) Extreme maximization or minimization of one or two variables.
b) Adding success factors so that a bigger combination drives success, often in non-linear fashion, as one is reminded by the concept of breakpoint and the concept of critical mass in physics. Often results are not linear. You get a little bit more mass, and you get a lollapalooza result.
c) An extreme of good performance over many factors.
d) Catching and riding some sort of big wave."
Seeker "What do you mean with 'big wave'?"
Munger "When...new businesses come in, there are huge advantages for the early birds. And when you're an early bird, there's a model that I call 'surfing' -- when a surfer gets up and catches the wave and just stays there, he can go a long, long time. But if he gets off the wave, he becomes mired in shallows...But people get long runs when they're right on the edge of the wave -- whether it's Microsoft or Intel or all kinds of people, including National Cash Register in the early days."