Companies and cities are scaffolds to enable agents to operate together to generate well-being. With so many pursuing grand schemes and "smart" strategies, yet finding that growth concentrates in a small percent of cases we must accept that we know precious little of what growth or well being really are or how they come about.
If someone offered you a medicine that worked 6% of the time would you consider it?
It is definitely a challenge. The container we call 'business' is badly broken and poorly understood. Consider that more and more studies point to <6% of new companies generating >50% of all new jobs. If you were told a 'formula' worked 6% of the time would you say it is well understood? The 'city' is not much better. As a bigger container to nurture well-being (equating here jobs as useful ones that lead to a local definition of prosperity) most cities are not doing well. The formula 'city' produces even more random results than company.
Part of why Tompkins ignores these complaints is that he sees them as short-sighted, while his own vision goes far beyond the time he will spend on Earth. In their book Land Ethics, the Tompkinses write that they don’t consider themselves landowners—even though they have purchased more land than nearly anyone else in the world. On a geological timescale, they write, the short moment in which they hold titles to the land is “nothing more than a wink of an eye.”
In the tun state, tardigrades don't need food or water. They can shrug off temperatures close to absolute zero and as high as 151 degrees Celsius. They can withstand the intense pressures of the deep ocean, doses of radiation that would kill other animals, and baths of toxic solvents. And they are, to date, the only animals that have been exposed to the naked vacuum of space and lived to tell the tale—or, at least, lay viable eggs. A new study suggests that this ability might have contributed to their superlative endurance in a strange and roundabout way. It makes them uniquely suited to absorbing foreign genes from bacteria and other organisms—genes that now pepper their genomes to a degree unheard of for animals.
On December 1, 2015, BITNATION will introduce a public notary service for Estonian e-residents. Via the international BITNATION Public Notary, e-residents, regardless of where they live or do business, will be able to notarize their marriages, birth certificates, business contracts, and much more on the Blockchain.
So in the absence of anyone being able to define how we turn today’s unsustainable practices into sustainable ones at five times the present scale, you’ll forgive me if I remain skeptical. If we could demonstrate the ability to seize control of the current scale and live sustainably today, I might grant that we have some hope of managing a similar trick at five times that scale. Instead, we intend to race headlong into a bigger tomorrow without proving ourselves capable of handling today’s world.
What is not discussed pretty much anywhere is that big-data is not in itself a sense-making instrument. If the minds observing are not prepared they will never experience the Aha! they seek. The superficiality and hubris of the mechanistic approach, where stakeholders are not deeply involved to make analytics an integral part of the "understanding of the real problem", will inevitably lead to failed projects.
At the same time the organizations are not prepared to make sense, use or guide the analytics - neither technically nor organizationally. If as Joana Schloss observes, a build-up from within is needed, then only a thorough effort towards real impact and sustainable design can accomplish that. A mere algorithmic "you might also like" system will never succeed to create the necessary people engagement to build this into an organizational capability.
Joana writes: There simply aren't enough data scientists in the world today, nor will there be in the foreseeable future. Instead of focusing on finding a single data scientist, you should instead focus on building data science teams from within your organisation.
And her recommendation is:
Train team members in-house to manage your customised big data initiatives. Find enthusiastic DBAs and business analysts willing to learn and take the next step, and offer the on-the-job training they need to take it.
Three pure Hadoop vendors - Cloudera, Hortonworks and MapR Technologies - have roped in more than twice as much capital as NoSQL databases.
What explains the discontinuity, sudden jump in Hadoop? Where NoSQL has a solid trend gaining ground, Hadoop looks like a leap of faith?
The roots of this sprouting growth have everything to do with big data. The database layer is essential to make it all work, and is seeing some ferocious efforts to gestate new architectures to cope with the new needs. The abruptness of the growth however raises reasonable doubts in someone looking from the side.
Today’s young people are held to be alienated, unhappy, violent failures. They are proving anything but
GÖRLITZER PARK, a patch of grass and concrete, has a seedy air. Its tall walls are covered in graffiti. Near the entrances, young African men stand around hassling...
Reporting from Berlin The Economist captures a fundamental shift in the attitudes of the younger generations. For all the nuances and possible causes, there is a surging of purpose and search for meaning in their own capacities.
"Perhaps that is progress. This is not a generation so jaded that it can never be bothered to protest. Despite its troubles, it is increasingly liberal. Those born in the 1980s and 1990s are sharply less prejudiced against people of other races or sexual orientations than their parents were.
Their political disengagement in part reflects disenchantment—but it is also a straightforward response to an era when politics simply seems to matter less. And a lack of political action does not mean no implications for the body politic. Young people tend to take their habits with them as they age, so as this generation grows up, problems in the past thought irreparable—crime, addiction, family breakdown—may diminish further."
“What do I mean by Silicon Valley’s ultimate exit?” he asked. “It basically means: build an opt-in society, ultimately outside the U.S., run by technology.”
If location really is beside the point, then so is the need to secede. Whatever Srinivasan may or may not have inartfully said, he isn’t opting out of anything, and neither is his new firm. In fact, quite the opposite. His success and that of Andreessen Horowitz are a function of the institutions that keep global capitalism on the rails and depend on those institutions continuing to prevail. If the choice of Srinivasan by Andreessen Horowitz sends any kind of message, it’s not that one of the Valley’s most successful firms wants to separate itself by moving to a private island. It’s that it wants to separate itself by staying on top.
Through the first six months of 2014, VCs have raised about as much as all of 2013. If this pace of fund raising continues, 2014 would mark the biggest year for VCs since 2001, when the industry raised about $38B. This new money hasn't yet hit the startup fundraising market in earnest, as the chart above shows. The second quarter of 2014 is the sixteenth largest by capital deployed sinced 1995, making it a top quartile quarter, but to break into the top five, that figure would need to triple. Nevertheless, we will see a spike in the next six months as firms begin investing from new funds. Which startup sectors should expect to benefit from this surfeit of capital?
TOMASZ TUNGUZ makes an excellent overview of the trends pointing to a surge in VC activity. This shows a worrying trend in the collapse of Energy investments, but how would one see if not some of the software products/big data are not in fact ways of making a larger impact via energy savings?
DML’s model is similar in philosophy, underscoring the role of interdependence. Called Connected Learning, the model is a response to changing face of culture as it relates to social and digital media. As technology evolves at breakneck speed, models that account for this kind of change are few and far between. Without review and revision of how and where students learn, the response is less than ideal: either blind adoption of technology, awkward adoption, or no adoption at all.
Cities are like water, while they perform, we don't notice how their lack is affecting us. Yet if too many are free riders, and instead of leaders all is delegated to administrators, this "commons" is depleted. Then, it no longer is a viable container or scaffold for growth.
The way this happens is quite rapid as those individuals with a fungible capacity emigrate, and the structure left looks more and more like a Swiss Cheese full of holes. As these specialized capacities find jobs elsewhere, the town of older people looses much of its adaptive capability.
On the other hand, if the town can let go of grand schemes, it may in this slowing down, uncover new answers of global relevance. But it will not do so while it has bosses and classes living as if nothing is going on.
Trapped inside the rumen, bacteria digest the components of the forage, especially cellulose, the large chains of glucose that form the main structural support of the cell walls of plants. Cellulose is the reason green plants tend to be stiff and rigid. People aren’t born with the enzymes to cope with cellulose, which is why we don’t eat grass. When humans eat foods such as fruits and vegetables, the cellulose acts as dietary fiber. Because it resists digestion, cellulose doesn’t provide energy. It does help a person feel full with fewer calories and maintain the health of the intestine, and of the microbiome inside.
The picture has other sides... the work on grasses in open grasslands is essential to keep soils healthy and avoid burning that is the only other way to clear the fields for new grass.
Complex systems may have billion components making consensus formation slow and difficult. Recently several overlapping stories emerged from various disciplines, including protein structures, neuroscience and social networks, showing that fast responses to known stimuli involve a network core of few, strongly connected nodes. In unexpected situations the core may fail to provide a coherent response, thus the stimulus propagates to the periphery of the network. Here the final response is determined by a large number of weakly connected nodes mobilizing the collective memory and opinion, i.e. the slow democracy exercising the 'wisdom of crowds'. This mechanism resembles to Kahneman's "Thinking, Fast and Slow" discriminating fast, pattern-based and slow, contemplative decision making. The generality of the response also shows that democracy is neither only a moral stance nor only a decision making technique, but a very efficient general learning strategy developed by complex systems during evolution. The duality of fast core and slow majority may increase our understanding of metabolic, signaling, ecosystem, swarming or market processes, as well as may help to construct novel methods to explore unusual network responses, deep-learning neural network structures and core-periphery targeting drug design strategies.
Fast and slow thinking -- of networks: The complementary 'elite' and 'wisdom of crowds' of amino acid, neuronal and social networks Peter Csermely
With the increasing appreciation for the crucial roles that microbial symbionts play in the development and fitness of plant and animal hosts, there has been a recent push to interpret evolution through the lens of the “hologenome”—the collective genomic content of a host and its microbiome. But how symbionts evolve and, particularly, whether they undergo natural selection to benefit hosts are complex issues that are associated with several misconceptions about evolutionary processes in host-associated microbial communities. Microorganisms can have intimate, ancient, and/or mutualistic associations with hosts without having undergone natural selection to benefit hosts. Likewise, observing host-specific microbial community composition or greater community similarity among more closely related hosts does not imply that symbionts have coevolved with hosts, let alone that they have evolved for the benefit of the host. Although selection at the level of the symbiotic community, or hologenome, occurs in some cases, it should not be accepted as the null hypothesis for explaining features of host–symbiont associations.
Moran NA, Sloan DB (2015) The Hologenome Concept: Helpful or Hollow? PLoS Biol 13(12): e1002311. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1002311
"Many people dream of success. To me succes can only be achieved through repeated failure and introspection. In fact, success represents the one percent of your work that results from the ninety-nine percent that is called failure."
Soichiro Honda, Engineer, Founder of Honda Motor Company (aka "Honda")
"Failure is the foundation of success, and the means by which it is achieved." Lao Tzu,
There is no better illustration of the life cycle of a great power than The Course of Empire, a series of five paintings by Thomas Cole that hang in the New-York Historical Society.
Great powers and empires are, I would suggest, complex systems, made up of a very large number of interacting components that are asymmetrically organized, which means their construction more resembles a termite hill than an Egyptian pyramid.
They operate somewhere between order and disorder – on “the edge of chaos,” in the phrase of the computer scientist Christopher Langton. Such systems can appear to operate quite stably for some time; they seem to be in equilibrium but are, in fact, constantly adapting. But there comes a moment when complex systems “go critical.”
A very small trigger can set off a “phase transition” from a benign equilibrium to a crisis – a single grain of sand causes a whole pile to collapse, or a butterfly flaps its wings in the Amazon and brings about a hurricane in southeastern England.
Not long after such crises happen, historians arrive on the scene. They are the scholars who specialize in the study of “fat tail” events – the low-frequency, high-impact moments that inhabit the tails of probability distributions, such as wars, revolutions, financial crashes, and imperial collapses. But historians often misunderstand complexity in decoding these events. They are trained to explain calamity in terms of long-term causes, often dating back decades.
This is what Nassim Taleb rightly condemned in The Black Swan as “the narrative fallacy”: the construction of psychologically satisfying stories on the principle of post hoc, ergo propter hoc.
Defeat in the mountains of the Hindu Kush or on the plains of Mesopotamia has long been a harbinger of imperial fall. It is no coincidence that the Soviet Union withdrew from Afghanistan in the annus mirabilis of 1989. What happened 20 years ago, like the events of the distant fifth century, is a reminder that empires do not in fact appear, rise, reign, decline, and fall according to some recurrent and predictable life cycle. It is historians who retrospectively portray the process of imperial dissolution as slow-acting, with multiple overdetermining causes. Rather, empires behave like all complex adaptive systems. They function in apparent equilibrium for some unknowable period. And then, quite abruptly, they collapse.
Can new insights from biology help us reimagine scaling up?
How do we scale up?
A start-up is not a smaller version of a bigger company in the same way that a company isn’t a larger version of a start-up. Similarly, assuming that we can standardize a social service developed in one place and apply it somewhere else (which pretty much sums up a prevailing approach to scaling in development) overlooks a series of things, such as adaptation and reinvention, that may make that social service more relevant and fit for a given setting.
So, as Jesper Christiansen from MindLab writes, success for us isn’t just one scaled solution, but multiple prototypes that local teams take forward. By identifying those local teams and empowering them to refine and move forward with their ideas, we’re hoping to create a school of fish not a whale—quick to move, and adaptable to rapidly changing and sometime volatile socio-political circumstances.
Barder remarks that, unlike venture capitalists, scaling up in development is more like building a series of separate businesses from scratch, each in a different market. Much like those crickets in Hawaii, we’re simultaneously testing a number of different ways to solve a problem, continually scanning the horizon to see which aspects of which strategies may work and evolve, or which ones people will take up and which ones they won’t. We are excited to see where it goes.
Below is my Q&A with another housemate, physicist Carlo Rovelli of Aix-Marseille University and the Intitut Universitaire de France. I interviewed Rovelli by phone in the early 1990s when I was writing a story for Scientific American about loop quantum gravity, a quantum-mechanical version of gravity proposed by Rovelli, Lee Smolin and Abhay Ashtekar. (General relativity, Einstein’s theory of gravity, is notoriously difficult to reconcile with quantum mechanics.)
I was thrilled to meet Rovelli face to face, especially since he turned out to be, like Sheldrake and Ellis, a good as well as smart guy. Rovelli is the author of a leading textbook on quantum gravity and a biography about the ancient Greek philosopher Anaximander (discussed below). For more on Rovelli’s views on physics and philosophy, see this 2012conversation with him on Edge.org.
Rovelli is human and wonderful. He says for example: " theoretical physics has not done great in the last decades. Why? Well, one of the reasons, I think, is that it got trapped in a wrong philosophy: the idea that you can make progress by guessing new theory and disregarding the qualitative content of previous theories.
This is the physics of the “why not?” Why not studying this theory, or the other? Why not another dimension, another field, another universe? Science has never advanced in this manner in the past. Science does not advance by guessing. It advances by new data or by a deep investigation of the content and the apparent contradictions of previous empirically successful theories.
Quite remarkably, the best piece of physics done by the three people you mention is Hawking’s black-hole radiation, which is exactly this. But most of current theoretical physics is not of this sort. Why? Largely because of the philosophical superficiality of the current bunch of scientists.
This paper discusses the phenomenon of “built to become:” an open-ended ongoing process for which there is no grand ex ante plan possible and which unfolds through a series of transformations in the course of the strategic evolution of long-lived companies. It develops a “strategic leadership” framework to examine and explain corporate becoming.
This framework involves defining the key tasks of strategic leadership and identifying four key elements of the company’s strategic leadership capability.
The paper presents the conceptual foundation of a book entitled Built to Become that examines the strategic evolution of Hewlett Packard as a long-lived company. (academic)
But as it concerns emergent patterns it speaks to our core topic of mapping and synthesizing value patterns that are not visible to the naked eye and largely explainable through a system that is open to friction and collisions.
Paul Graham differentiates between startups and new businesses on one particular parameter, the potential for scale and hyper-growth. A startup’s potential to achieve hyper-growth and rapid scale is largely dependent on the types of growth strategies it implements.
Yes, the answer is design it for growth. Whether it is your favorite save the world approach, app or technical solution, the answer is not in the pushing, it must discover how it can be a a self reinforcing virtuous cycle
Previous efforts at such clusters failed for a variety of reasons, but one big reason is that government efforts alone simply don’t draw people. That’s why a recent crop of experiments has focused more on building entrepreneurial communities, urban hubsand districts, and hackerspaces. Still, we’re “splitting the logic” on how to create an innovation ecosystem...
Best piece I have read in a while... Marc is spot on on the criticism of following past successes and existing models via imitation, but also opens the discussion on what should or could be the way forward...
Imagine a Bitcoin Valley, for instance, where some country fully legalizes cryptocurrencies for all financial functions. Or a Drone Valley, where a particular region removes all legal barriers to flying unmanned aerial vehicles locally. A Driverless Car Valley in a city that allows experimentation with different autonomous car designs, redesigned roadways and safety laws. A Stem Cell Valley. And so on.
Thank you for directing my attention to the research. Just fascinating, will take up some in-depth time on this most important of topics: what is growth? If such small percentage of companies actually exhibit characteristic we desire, this leaves open the question of whether we really understand what is going on and why.
Nothing evident or obvious. Long term factors however seem at play. The chart of employment per cohort (by decades) shows that the 60's cohort has best sustained its share of employment, while the earlier and later cohorts have lost their shares more rapidly. Also noticeable, is that the 2000s has been remarkably slow compared to past cohorts to reach its maximum share - it seems still on the rise.
A few ideas ... more older firms may signify that healthier learning organizations are better at surviving turbulent times.
The cohort from the 1995s (cut off) includes most of the "new" household names eBay (95), Amazon (94), Google (98) which have been among the biggest gobblers of the "new" small fishes -- not consolidation of industries as much as consolidation of standards/platforms.
The 60's mark the secular upswing's beginning - companies are institutions of a wide array of industries. The 2000's and 2010's are still emerging, mobile/IT, now enablers of platform changes, the new institution level companies are yet not visible.
The secular upswing is still not underway, just laying the foundations. Hence lots of experiments. The optimal prism to use now therefore should be pattern in failures, not successes. #CaseWorthy
There's a revolution occurring in how our urban spaces are managed, but success is less likely to come from grandiose projects and more likely to derive from a series of small improvements... Smart cities are still attainable, but we're learning from...
Through Cohesion Policy funding, the EU invests approximately €50 billion each year in economic development at the national and regional level (around 34% of the total EU budget). These investments are designed to help Member States and regions reach the Europe 2020 goals of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.
Does Europe know how? The lots of brown patches are the current situation after a EUR 300B investment (2007-13) for 600k jobs created. That is EUR 500k for every new job created. Clearly there are other infrastructure and so on, but in any case job creation wise it is a lot of dough for lots of brown patches.
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