Friday, 26 October 2007

How to Manage Complex Innovation.

Complexity in terms of up-scale, intricacy, and the increasing number of sub-systems has been noted as a prime sandbag, and often acute limit on many fields of technological and systems innovation. Hyperinnovations build an ever higher mounting for organisations to climb.

This is known as The Wall.

NASA, Airbus and IBM are working with their nose flat against The Wall.

NASA’s ‘Mission to Mars’ includes the development, integration, qualification and commission of 10s of 1000s of technological sub-systems.

Airbus’ A380 dual deck airliner has over 10 million components that have to fit and function to peak aerospace standards.

IBM’s Bluegene/Peta-FLOP supercomputer integrates 100’s of Pentium microprocessors.

Molecular chemists and their retrovirus pharmaceuticals, software hackers and their code length, telecoms engineers and the connection models, even CEOs and their strategic alliances, join the pack.

So what to do?

Work harder? Redouble efforts? Put the pedal to the metal?

A common error when toiling to heat up the pace of innovation in the face of increasing complexity, is to load more agents. That’s more staff, more managers, tighter control, stricter rules, more policies, ever sophisticated technologies, fatter resources, and a bank load more financial capital, in an attempt to increase effort and raise output.

This might be a correct action for a highly certain, steady-state, linear process, like counting the number of books in a library. In this case, for every agent added, there is a significant increase in output.

Innovation, and especially multidimensional innovation, is, however, a highly uncertain and acutely interactive process.

The point?

The more agents employed, the greater the number of interactions and communication passes there are. There is a point where for every extra agent added, there is a decline in productivity, which ultimately adds to the complexity of the innovation that it was intended to advance.

The answer to managing n-dimensional innovation at a faster pace, is not to add yet more agents, but to innovate multidimensional management systems. They are smarter, simpler, integral, and exactly suited for Hyperinnovation.

My book Hyperinnovation describes such a management model. See sidebar for table of contents and excerpts.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

TED, Not So Cuddly After All.

I recently had a chat with a rather amiable TEDster (a TEDster is an aficionado of the famous TED lectures).

She purported with verve and glee that the TED lectures are a real boon for our world. The bringing together of the most successful, smartest, insightful and driven people on the planet to speak about their achievements, and how they are, or will, benefit mankind.

I’m, in fact, a TEDster, and proud of it. But I do have may reservations.

In the constructive sense, I can be quite critical of TED. Here’s an example.

Steven Pinker, the Harvard University Professor of Psychology, gave a lecture on ‘The Myth of Violence.’ He maintained, in his own words, that ‘Our ancestors were far more violent than we are… violence has been in decline for long stretches of time… and that today we are probably living in the most peaceful time in our existence.’

Looking at human history, there is much evidence that backs this. Going way back to the beginning of human history, human’s would wage war for no reason other than to dominate. War and outright murder just because one human or tribe was bigger than another. It was outright savagery.

In the recent past, invasions and wars were base on economic and territorial gain, which, if the truth be known, were based on primitive ego and mania (re: Genghis Kuhn, Caesar, Napoleon, Hitler, at el).

Only lately, in relative human history terms, have wars been waged on ethical grounds. So-called principled wars doing the right thing, putting a fullstop on the spread of illegitimate or corrupt causes. And in the extreme halt genocidle tyranny

But what Pinker neglected to say was the fact that at no other time have we had the capacity to totally and utterly wipe humanity off the planet. He didn’t include the fact that the UK’s Ministry of Defence, and the US’s DRAPA are R&Ding weapons of a destructive magnitude that make Nuclear and Biological warheads look like pop guns.

For me, the real issue is not simply how peaceful we are, but how safe we are.

I’d like to hear Prof Pinker lecture on that.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Internet Versions: 5 Steps to Nirvana.

Somebody just asked me to describe what ‘Internet 2.0’ (Internet Two Point O) means/is?

Internet version 1.0 was the original slow, unreliable and basic 15k bps version, which took ages to down load a simple text file.

Internet version 2.0 is the 1 to 10Meg (ish) bps system most have now, that down loads 30 second video clips in a few seconds. Augmented with applications that make it easy for people to come together, share images, ideas, video link and more (you know this of course).

But this is only the beginning.

Internet version 3.0 (c.2012+) will be an always-on, always connected form, that can download multiple high-definition full-length feature films in real-time.

Internet version 4.0 (c.2018+) will be always-on, always connected 3D high definition immersive environments, where users engage in virtual augmented realities with other users at their leisure.

Internet version 5.0 (c.2025) will be always-on, always-in direct nervous system injection of real-time augmented realities. Most people will want to live in a Matrix kind of world, because of the increased magnitude of fun, intrigue, discovery, companionship, freedom, easy-of-life, and clean and safe ambience.

Many will reject, scoff, and even attempt to stop V5.0.


People with chronic debilitating illnesses or crippling disabilities will think they've risen to Nirvana.

The blind will see not just reality in all its beauty, but hyperreailty in all it unknown mystery.

The profoundly deaf will hear not mere dampened hissy dins, but virgin clear blasts of vibrant ecstasy.

Wheelchair bound paraplegics on oxygen respirators will fly over Manhattan and the Himalayas, walk on the Moon; and if they so choose, walk down the local High Street with their partner.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

BBC, Let Go of Your Comfort Blanky.

In times of accelerated and discontinuous change, there is (all to often) a reflex to cling to the past. To hold on to what we know well. A kind of comfort blanket.

Comfort blankets and corporations alike, there is a long list of companies that went out of business because they failed to embrace the future.


When mains feed electricity arrived, instead of moving into incandescent lamps, gas and kerosene lamp manufacturers diligently polished their old lamp designs; coming up with wondrously efficient, quite ingenious concepts. Yet, all of the hundred or so mechanical lamp outfits went out of business within a decade.

The same story surrounds the US railway firms, as freeways and commercial airlines took off. In the same vein, Vaudeville vanished and Hollywood barely escaped being totally ravished by TV; most showbiz companies simply disappeared. Again, the reliability and plain availability of newfangled Electric Motors cut the Steam Engine to ribbons.

The lesson:

Instead of moving forward into the changing reality, the vanguard of the future, these companies honed incumbent strategies. They clung to their comfort blanket, their anxiety crutch of the past.

Compare this to companies and individuals that revolutionise their business strategies:

General Electric, a giant business that was exclusively into big machines like Jet Turbines, Hydro Electric Dams, and Theatre Lighting, etc. Then came the Capital Markets and Electronic Commerce. But instead of just getting lean and improving quality in their lumps of metal businesses (which incidentally they did to the highest standards) CEO Jack Welch (recently retired) transformed GE into the world’s number one consumer finance company. A radical depart from chunks of iron.

Virgin Group never stands still, willing to let go of much beloved core businesses. Virgin sold Virgin Records to gain the investment capital to pump-up their airline business (just as the likes of Napster and MP3 showed up… Smart!). And they did it again with Virgin Radio to develop Virgin Media. Today, Virgin Group is a $25 billion outfit, in markets that many a business has folded.

But this bold innovation strategy doesn’t stop at corporate door.

Radio Head are developing web-based music distribution. They’re also letting fans set a price for down-loading recordings. Instead, they’re asking aficionados to set the price on a purchase (a penny, a pound, eight quid, or what?). Then further enable fans (who bought their web-based product) to get into certain Night Clubs and Gigs at greatly reduced admission.

Madonna recently walked away from Warner Music Group Corp and signed a £100 million landmark deal with concert promoter Live Nation Inc. She said, ‘The paradigm in the music business has shifted and as an artist and a business woman, I have to move with that shift…. For the first time in my career, the way that my music can reach my fans is unlimited. I've never wanted to think in a limited way and with this new partnership, the possibilities are endless.’

So a question: who are now your competition? An important question in these times of tidal wave change.

Let’s take the case of the BBC. Who, now, are their predators?

Well, it’s not simply ITV, Sky or Channel 4.

The BBC’s Nine O’Clock News main rival is not purely ITN’s News at Ten.

BBC Radio 1 to 7 is not merely in opposition with incumbents Juice or Classic FM.

No, not in the least.

It’s nascent cyberspace outfits like Joost, YouTube, and Channelchooser. It’s laptop desktop clips and IPodcasts. It’s the Ministry-of-Sound, Helterskelter, Space and Oasis online Channels. It’s even across the pond, but now online Fox News and ABC. These are the entrepreneurial ether outfits that are blazing the TV and Radio trail.

BBC, let go of your comfort blanky. Get radical!

Here’s some Hyperinnovation tips:

End territorial TV by 2014. Bandwidth capacity to carry real-time high definition TV will there.

Scale down your admin work force, and redeploy admin staff to technical, production and creative roles.

Create an ‘any and all’ web-based TV on demand multichannel, and put all programming on online. Want to watch an episode of Handcocks Half Hour or Hill Street Blue? Down load it.

Create individual channels for all popular TV programs: an Eastenders channel, a Blue Peter channel, an Horizon channel, and so forth.

Democratise viewing, by integrating a vote casts to lead what’s on-line.

Regular pod cast the most popular.

Simultaneously take bigger risks in programming.

Make at least half the programming short 5, 10, 15 and 20 minute programs (it’s a time crunched world).

Sunday, 21 October 2007