Weekend innovation tip: Look for tipping points


Here’s a fascinating talk about our digital future by Carnegie Mellon University Professor Jesse Schnell who dives into a world of game development which will emerge from the popular "Facebook Games" era. Prof. Schnell sees a future where our behavior is determined by the same way outcomes in games are determined: by the number of points we get by doing a task.


This is very interesting and you should definitely watch the video, it’s well worth the 28 minutes!


As a fellow gamer, this doesn’t hit me as strange because games have built ‘addictive mechanisms’ that while annoying sometimes; you’re still playing another 2 hours. And now we have all these social games that are also moving into the mobile arena that will get us doing things to get more points while interacting with out environment. The fact is, games are addictive and companies like Zynga and Foursquare know this and are making great use of these mechanisms (I’ve stayed away from Farmville as I believe is a BIG waste of time but know people who are HOOKED on it like crack!).

What’s happening beneath these ‘trends’ is that industries are overlapping on one another and the tipping point was when Facebook opened it’s application platform to developers a few years back and then network effects took over that now almost half a billion are only a click away from becoming contributors to point gaining behavior.


Could we have predicted that social gaming would take off as it has? No. Could we have anticipated? Most likely.


We’re evolving!

Different domains are converging with one another and is shaping our behavior. Yesterday I posted my thoughts on the topic of evolution and I argue that . Change doesn’t come from doing the same thing over and over again, it comes from the convergence of different domains. It’s very hard to predict what might happen, but what we can do is try to anticipate these changes or if you’re brave enough, create the change you want to see in the world yourself.


So how do we look for turning points? Here’s how I go about it:


> Try to determine the underlying causes behind competition in different domains and think about how these might overlap.

> Look for any sudden successes or failures in the business world that people find hard to explain.

> Examine the greatest anxieties of those on the inside of any business or industry.

> Keep an eye out for any kind of shifts in tastes or values.


More importantly after you’ve thought about the things above, ask yourself ‘WHY’ 5 times for each! You don’t have to be a great forecaster (for all we know they don’t know either!), you just have to be aware that things evolve. How this happens and what the outcome will be is what we want to anticipate.

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Change not growth