NOW AVAILABLE The draft of my book on Organizational Intelligence is now available on LeanPub Please support this development by subscribing and commenting. Thanks.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Ungrounded Technology

In my post on Shifting Paradigms and Disruptive Technology, I asked

Why on earth would technologists wish to claim that their favourite innovation is a "disruptive technology", let alone a "paradigm shift"?

I now have a follow-up question. Why on earth would technologists wish to claim that their favourite innovation is "completely new"?

In his Note to Vendors on the Church-Turing Thesis, Steve Jones points out that this claim is generally false.

"No it isn't, it's an evolution of something, it might be a clever idea but it's not going to be a completely and utterly new solution that no-one in the whole world has ever done anything like it before."

Quite so. For my part, when I hear sales people making these claims, I just hope they don't know what they are talking about. If the innovation really were completely new, now that would be scary.

Do you want to fly in a plane whose engine design departs from all old-fashioned ideas about engine design, whose wings are constructed from a completely new and untested material, and whose software architecture doesn't use any recognized patterns? No, I thought not.

If I am presenting a technological innovation to a management audience, for every manager who is excited about the novelty of the innovation, there are at least three who are cautious. How do you know it's going to work? How many organizations are already using this? What is the largest and most complex implementation to date? Do you have any metrics?

Why would you trust an innovation if you couldn't trace the engineering history behind it?

No comments:

Post a Comment