Tag Archives: evolution

What book changed your life?

the origin of species charles darwinEveryone has a favorite book, but how about one that changed your life? Typically you get asked about your favorite books about a specific topic, or books in general; but never about a book that changed your life. Well, somebody asked me this question recently, I’d never thought about it before. 

Innovation posts of the week: Evolution and Innovation

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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.

Change not growth

mexican walking fish

What’s very dangerous is not to evolve.

See that strange looking animal that looks like it was in the movie Avatar? It’s called a Mexican walking fish, or axolotl, and is one of the most bizarre creatures on the planet. Not just because of how it looks but because it has the distinct ability to regrow limbs. The mexican walking fish isn’t really a fish, it’s salamander and it’s closely related to frogs and other amphibians with whom they share some of the same characteristics.

Enough with biology class. Why did I put that picture in this post?

Because as bizarre a creature this is, it reminded me of how everything evolves and how different species combine or recombine themselves to form new species that adopt the abilities of others and so forth. We’re so used to seeing the same types of animals all the time that when we see something like an Axototl it seems alien to us.


The same happens in business, we get so used to seeing the same types of businesses all the time that when we see one that operates in a totally different way than the others they seem crazy to us. And you know why? Because we’re not evolving, we’re getting left behind and pretty soon the one’s that are evolving will put us out of business.


And then the cycle repeats itself. Where in the cycle are you?

I think it’s important that we be aware that we also must evolve. Consultants will tell you that you need to cannibalize your business, what they’re really trying to tell you is your business needs to evolve not because they say so but because everything changes.


To evolve doesn’t mean to grow, it means to change.

Like evolution, change doesn’t start in the mainstream where you’re sitting, it starts at the edges. Like new types of businesses, new species of animals are created at the edges and then some eventually move to the mainstream while others stay on the edge.

Do you think your dog, cat or fish has looked that way forever? Do you think your business will look the same way in 5 years? Do you think your customers will always want the same thing you’re selling? Do you think the industry/market you operate in will always exist, operating in the same way with the same players in 5 years? Do you think tomorrow is going to be the same as today?


The answer is: NO.


One last thought to remember and you knew it was coming: It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. – Charles Darwin.

Hopefully we’re all changing to stay relevant, not just in the pursuit of growth.