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DrStrik9
05-16-2012, 11:33 AM
I just watched a TED Talk on "The Surprising Math of Cities and Corporations" and found it very relevant for present times. (Netflix, or other video access required.)

TED Talks : Numbers Speak Louder Than Words : Episode 4 (about 17 minutes long)

Definitely worth watching.

EDIT: Here's a link:

http://www.hulu.com/watch/264222/tedtalks-geoffrey-west-the-surprising-math-of-cities-and-corporations

cagey5
05-16-2012, 01:18 PM
For those of us not in the U.S.

http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/geoffrey_west_the_surprising_math_of_cities_and_co rporations.html

at least I'm guessing this is the same lecture ..

rcallicotte
05-16-2012, 01:57 PM
The secret is innovation, which seems like the real heartbeat to keep the thing (company, city, whatever) alive.

DrStrik9
05-16-2012, 01:58 PM
at least I'm guessing this is the same lecture ..

Yup, that's the one.

DrStrik9
05-16-2012, 03:01 PM
The secret is innovation, which seems like the real heartbeat to keep the thing (company, city, whatever) alive.

I thought his statement that all companies die, like people do, was significant. Cities, it seems, don't typically die, but the empires they exist in definitely do. Innovation is the magic juice that extends the life of a company as long as it can be extended. But in commerce, (my opinion here) disruptive technologies are what kill companies. So lightning-speed adaptability is the context for life-extending innovation.

kopperdrake
05-17-2012, 07:46 AM
The problem is that sometimes companies just can not adapt, they become too big and unwieldy. They rely so much on one type of product, service and are geared for that, when a new way of doing things comes along they just don't have the mindset to move with it. The death of certain corporations is an inevitability, in the same way the death of empires, species groups, ideologies, everything really, is inevitable eventually. Only the simplest and smallest can survive as entities because they can adapt, or are less specialised. This is not to say that elements of a corporation can't survive, in the same way that elements of an empire can survive. The echoes of something that once was can continue, in spin-off companies, ideas, ideologies, cities, and through this splintering can allow the best of the ideas it birthed come in to their own.

I should add that it's not just innovation that prolongs the life of a company, innovation is just a way of ensuring that some of the ideas encapsulated in the larger being (corporation for example) might well be the next thing to bring revenue in. Without innovation you definitely will be doomed, with innovation you are giving birth to multiple children that raises the possibility that some will grow up and be successful, and those children might well stay in the family (corporation, empire etc) and help continue the run of success. Of course, it is totally plausible that all of your innovation can be dead-ended, in which case you are still doomed. What really matters is a good knowledge of the market, the foresight to look beyond what you yourself do, the ability to allow new ideas to grow and reach a stage where you can realistically decide if they are the next thing or a dead-end. The larger the corporation/empire the more systems need to be in place to ensure the smooth day-to-day running of the behemoth, and the less adaptable you inevitably become - new ideas need to be ratified at many levels. With a smaller entity you need only convince a few of the importance of a new idea before it can be acted on.

rcallicotte
05-17-2012, 10:49 AM
Somehow, I think that adaptability is the real key. Innovation is its spawn. If a company can stay lean and do well with what it has, then learning to adapt to anything that encourages the company to maintain its intelligent energy will move it forward.

Maybe companies need to have an "adaptability department". Everything needs to go through that department before being put out into production - "Is this adapting to customer needs or is this just laziness?"

Good questions for IT workers, too. :santa:

DrStrik9
05-17-2012, 06:23 PM
It seems to me that human nature is not naturally innovative, but rather wants to find a comfort zone and stay there, in perceived "safety." (Imo, this is a kind of "blindness.") The larger the company, the more entrenched its people tend to become (which makes its systems entrenched as well), not being willing to learn new stuff, and adapt. That "comfort zone" is usually what prevents innovation and ultimately does a company in.

Small lean companies with new methods are what usually kill or hamper the success of big (bloated) companies, but this is only because smaller companies aren't typically entrenched; they tend to be younger, and more adaptable.

I've seen older companies with "new blood" begin trends toward innovation and adaptability, only to have some old boys at the top pull hidden strings at the right moment and the whole thing falls back to what it once was: entrenched, unable (unwilling) to adapt. It all comes down to human nature, being either open/adventurous/innovative, or fear/comfort-motivated.

The bigger the enterprise, the more energy it takes to get it to change.

rcallicotte
05-18-2012, 12:15 PM
Sounds rational.

Not to get off the subject, but I think this is related. I once heard a missionary say that when he was beginning as a young man who had once worked for AT&T, where he learned a few things to do and not to do, he found success in finding a cutoff point for numbers of people in a church. Once the limit was just spilling over this limit, a new church would start. Everyone was encouraged to play nice together when the separation came, but it accelerated the growth and made room for ease of change to maintain life in the organization.

Now, what about doing this with companies? I'll go run and hide now. :D



It seems to me that human nature is not naturally innovative, but rather wants to find a comfort zone and stay there, in perceived "safety." (Imo, this is a kind of "blindness.") The larger the company, the more entrenched its people tend to become (which makes its systems entrenched as well), not being willing to learn new stuff, and adapt. That "comfort zone" is usually what prevents innovation and ultimately does a company in.

Small lean companies with new methods are what usually kill or hamper the success of big (bloated) companies, but this is only because smaller companies aren't typically entrenched; they tend to be younger, and more adaptable.

I've seen older companies with "new blood" begin trends toward innovation and adaptability, only to have some old boys at the top pull hidden strings at the right moment and the whole thing falls back to what it once was: entrenched, unable (unwilling) to adapt. It all comes down to human nature, being either open/adventurous/innovative, or fear/comfort-motivated.

The bigger the enterprise, the more energy it takes to get it to change.