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.
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.
Empathica is based on the hope that increasing empathy between people can help to overcome impasses in disputes in many domains: couples, families, organizations, politics, and so on. Empathica conveys mutual understanding of values and emotions through cognitive-affective maps.
The cases presented are very interesting and CaseWorthy and the Cognitive Emotional map a valuable layer of information. It is a new method of graphically diagramming disputants’ points of view, and the paper takes you to four current cases of extreme importance.
The result is a detailed image of a disputant’s complex belief system that can assist in-depth analysis of the ideational sources of the dispute and thereby aid its resolution.
The method is illustrated with 4 cases:
a clash over German housing policy,
disagreements between Israelis over the meaning of the Western Wall,
contention surrounding exploitation of Canada’s bitumen resources,
the deep dispute between people advocating action on climate change and those skeptical about the reality of the problem.
Clayton Christensen suggests in HBR that we need a revolution in management. But the needed revolution goes way beyond acquiring new tools. It needs radically different management mindsets.
The article is correct in pointing out that that firms need more investments in market-creating innovations. One reason why the market-creating innovations do poorly in internal investment decisions in comparison with cost-saving investments, is that the massive upside potential of market-creating innovations can’t be “proved.” The market for such innovations doesn’t currently exist. Hence the upside can’t be demonstrated as a realistic possibility.
What this means is that a different type of logic needs to be applied to future events. The key questions in market-creating innovation are not based on traditional inductive or deductive logic: “Is it true?” or “Can I prove that?” The key questions are questions of abductive logic.
Here again the tool doesn’t need to be invented. It already exists. It was pioneered a century ago by the American philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce and discussed in Roger Martin’s book, The Design of Business. The key questions of abductive logic are:
“Might this become true?”
“How likely is it to become true?”
“What would follow if it were true?”
“What things would have to happen for this to become true?”
“How feasible are those things?”
To use abductive logic, management often has to to overcome major obstacles in terms of management mindsets (read more) ...
Above all, it has to overcome the pervasive notion that the purpose of a firm is to maximize short-term profits. Here again, the problem isn’t lack of tools. It’s management mindsets.
Notes on the practice of innovation and technology commercialization“That is why, according to Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Kenneth Cukier’s book, Big Data, ‘causality won’t be discarded, but it is...
Dr. Zivkovik further notes “The aim of interventions at the point of self-organization is to enable community system members and their resources to recombined into new patterns of interaction and working arrangements that improve the functioning and performance of the community system and displace the old way of thinking.”
These communities may be said to be engaged in ‘collective entrepreneurship’ by integrating knowledge and resources from different, and sometimes diverse, parts of the ecosystem, capitalizing on properties of far-from-equilibrium complex adaptive systems such as self-organization, and using the resulting resources to address difficult problems.
Average workers have not only been earning less than those at the top. They have been earning less, full stop.
We hear all the time about the wonderful benefits of disruptive innovation. But meanwhile we don't spend nearly enough time to understand what is growth. 5% of all new companies will produce over 60% of all new jobs. What will the other 95% do? how much will it cost? can it be done better?
Raising disease rates, stress, incarcerations, drug abuse, all the signs of social unrest and dissatisfaction, indicate that things are not working well.
The data is strong: Bloomberg reports: "In inflation-adjusted dollars, a typical 35-44 year old man earned $54,163 back in 1972. Now a man of that age earns $45,224, or 17 percent less. For the 25-34 age bracket, the loss is even greater. You often hear of income having stayed “flat” for many years. On the household level, that’s true. Women’s incomes have increased (a good thing), and many more women have entered the workforce. That’s made up for the drop in men’s incomes, and the median household income has risen a little since 1972."
We are not, but could be designing more sustainable outcomes instead of trying to treat the symptoms with Spa procedures. (reported in the Huffington Post)
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.
The One Community Duplicable City Hub is meant to expand sustainability into the lives of people who might not normally be interested in sustainable living. It will be ADA compliant, LEED Platinum certified, built to California building codes (some of the strictest in the nation), and designed to provide a living environment that most people will consider far superior to their current environment. It will also save people money, conserve resources (when being built and long-term), and function as an optimal starting and/or central expansion point for any of the 7 One Community sustainable village models.
We will open source share everything needed for complete duplication of this structure and all of its components as part of our 4-phase strategy for global transformation and spreading comprehensive sustainability.
The conceptions of organic architecture that emerged with Frank Lloyd Wright (1867–1959), and his influence. An early embodiment of these ideas is in the conception of Xanadu by Matt Taylor.
"Xanadu is designed to be an Innovation Palace; a modern cathedral built to house and facilitate human creativity and innovation - individual, Group Genius and creativity on the societal scale. The scale of this version is between one thousand and 1500 people in the main building and an equal amount on the extended campus. This number could be halved or doubled within the scaleability of the architectural concept. From a design process and social critical mass point of view, about 2,000 active participants, on site at any given time, is the present working hypothesis of critical mass."
The smallest version of this in prototype scale is similar to the One Hub proposal (
This version of the Xanadu concept is built on a 100 meter base with four 50 meter domes around a 70 meter dome with three 100 meter towers. This would account for approximately 50% of the campus facility the rest being scattered throughout the natural landscape.
Frank Lloyd write wrote: "So here I stand before you preaching organic architecture: declaring organic architecture to be the modern ideal and the teaching so much needed if we are to see the whole of life, and to now serve the whole of life, holding no traditions essential to the great TRADITION. Nor cherishing any preconceived form fixing upon us either past, present or future, but instead exalting the simple laws of common sense or of super-sense if you prefer determining form by way of the nature of materials ..."
Detailed overview of the many layers and intricate relationships and alliances and the resulting co-dependencies of the smart city movement led by technology companies. Bruce sees the ethical and political challenges ahead.
I wonder what others said at FabLab - Bruce is very good here pointing out how unsmart the smart city idea is, I don't s'poze that was what the organizers wanted to hear.
The issues are really that cities are long living creatures and it is isn't smart not to consider multiple levels of recursion in designing really smart futures - Listen to Bruce!
Is Harvard's Clayton Christensen’s theory of disruptive innovation terrorism? Or has the one-time assistant to Michael Porter confused the diagnosis with the disease?
60 years of decline in Return on Assets prove that making a profit has become increasingly difficult, or that capital is so abundant that on average it returns little. Which is it?
I think it is both. Since the 1971 Nixon Shock liquidity and debt have ballooned, but so clearly falling returns on assets must point to a broad base of industries where commoditization is very high.
It is not surprising then that this polemic about disruption has fallen on open ears. And much of it is not about products, but whole ecosystems shifting:
The case of Apple [AAPL] is interesting, though the issues are more nuanced than Lepore’s portrayal. If Apple’s iPhone had been merely a phone, Christensen would have been correct to say in 2007 that the more expensive iPhone would have little chance of succeeding against entrenched firms with cheaper mobile devices like Nokia [NOK] and Blackberry.
As it turned out, the iPhone wasn’t just a phone. It became a whole ecosystem, in which the iPhone met the diverse needs of hundreds of millions of individual iPhone users with a technology platform drawing on the talents of hundreds of thousands of developers. It could be adapted to meet the needs, preferences and passing whims of every single user—a feat for which customers proved willing to pay a substantial premium. As a result, Apple’s ecosystem was able to disrupt the existing producers of cheaper mobile phones like Nokia and Blackberry.
“According to complex adaptive systems theory, under certain conditions interactions between independent agents produce system-level order as agents interact and learn from each other, change their behavior, and adapt and evolve to increase their robustness.
Looking for the roots of where real growth comes from, we have to look into this for sure. "Empirical research shows that large complex systems such as communities require enabling conditions to be created in order to maintain the coordination required for emergence self-organization and adaptive capability."
The Brazilian president gave no quarter to opponents who have suggested the country’s humiliating defeat in the World Cup may haunt her in the election this fall.
This is embarrassing! First she sings, then she plays statistics and coincidences and lastly she distances any aspect of this failure from obvious attributes of the current performance of the country.
It may well be so and there is no connection between football an politics. But for the brands that invested hundreds of millions to be represented ans associated with the Brasil flag, the unexplained collapse of the team -no simple loss, there are very onerous consequences.
Emotionally, the denial and forgetting the issue will no doubt be lodged in brand associations. The traumatized Brazilian audience may not want anything to do with the brands that will now remind them of this episode.
There is a lesson in all this but Ms Rousseff seems rather ready to let it slip away. For a football "not tied to politics or the economy"(Rousseff) the dignitary attendance seems to say otherwise:
"Ms. Rousseff said she was looking forward to attending the final on Sunday, where she expects to sit with Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. Argentina’s president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, was expected to miss the game after her government announced that she had a throat ailment."
And as Fifa and the Olympics continue towards ever higher highs, one would be wise to take up the deeper study of this case on one's own shoulders.