ALL FLUX

In a poetic sense, the prime goal…

…of the new economy is to undo–company by company, industry by industry–the industrial economy.

In reality, of course, the industrial cortex cannot be undone. But a larger web of new, more agile, more tightly linked organizations can be woven around it. These upstart firms bank on constant change and flux.

Change itself is no news, however. Ordinary change triggers yawns. Most change is mere churn, a random disposable newness that accomplishes little. Churn is the status quo for these times. At the other extreme, there is change so radical that it topples the tower. Like inventions that fail because they are way ahead of their times, it is possible to reach too far with change.

What the network economy coaxes forth is a selective flux. The right kind of change, in the right doses. In almost all respects this kind of change is what we mean by innovation.

The word “innovation” is so common now that its true meaning is hidden. A truly innovative step is neither too staid and obvious, nor too far out. The innovative step is change that is neither random directionless churn, nor so outrageous that it can’t be appreciated. We wouldn’t properly call just another variation of something an innovation. We also wouldn’t call a shift to something that only worked in theory, but not practice, or that required a massive change in everyone else’s behavior to work, an innovation.

A real innovation is sufficiently different to be dangerous. It is change just this side of being ludicrous. It skirts the edge of the disaster, without going over. Real innovation is scary. It is anything but harmonious.

 

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This is a blog version of a book of mine first published in 1998. I am re-issuing it (two posts per week) unaltered on its 10th anniversary. Comments welcomed. More details here.
-- KK