From machines to ecosystems

When we talk about thriving in the digital age, we tend to revert to discussing how to leverage social media, mobile and other cool channels. There’s nothing wrong with that (and I do it myself!), but it can be useful to consider the bigger picture now and then. The challenges we face in business are not related to technology, they’re related to human beings. The industrial revolution brought us machines; and with it linear, machine-age thinking, articulated in machine-age language that in turn makes us think more like machines. This... Read The Rest →

Kill false assumptions & evolve

Many of us are making decisions based on false assumptions every single day. In fact we’re underpinning our businesses, organisations, products and personal lives with false assumptions. We keep on doing things that have been proven wrong, that haven been proven not to work, despite mounting evidence that there’s a better way. Our false assumptions are memes, i.e. viral cultural ideas we pass from human to human, brain to brain (you can read a bit more about memes in my previous post on replicators here). Sometimes we keep spreading memes... Read The Rest →

Brookside, postboxes & SaaS development

Loads of illuminating analogies have emerged in conversations with Andrew Missingham, but today there’s one in particular that popped up… You may remember when the soap Brookside launched on Channel 4. The storylines were based around folk living in a close of houses. They had some trouble at the outset however, in that script writers realised they hadn’t created enough ‘stock devices’ – places where people could meet that would fuel the dramatic unfolding of events. Their answer was to put a postbox on the street, so residents would accidentally... Read The Rest →

The discovery of complexity

Networks are an essential ingredient in any complex adaptive system. In biology, molecules interact in cells, cells interact in organisms, organisms interact in ecosystems. As Eric D. Beinhocker points out in one of my favourite books, ‘The Origin of Wealth’: “The economic world likewise depends on networks. The earth is girdled by roads, sewers, water systems, electrical grids, railroad tracks, gas lines, radio waves, television signals and fiber-optic cables. These provide the highways and byways of the matter, energy and information flowing through the open system of the economy. The... Read The Rest →

Our world might be a giant hologram

Craig Hogan, who has just been appointed director of Fermilab’s Center for Particle Astrophysics, reckons “If the GEO600 result is what I suspect it is, then we are all living in a giant cosmic hologram.” For the past seven years, a team in Germany has been searching for gravitational waves – ripples in space-time thrown off by super-dense astronomical objects such as neutron stars and black holes. GEO600 hasn’t detected any gravitational waves so far, but it might inadvertently have made the most important discovery in physics for half a... Read The Rest →

Investment in science

On Monday Obama delivered this speech, stating that “Science is more essential for our prosperity, our security, our health, our environment and our quality of life than it has ever been before.” He said his administration would double the budgets of key agencies, including the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Standards and Technology; and pursue the goal of cutting carbon pollution by 80% by 2050. “Energy is our big project,” he said. “My recovery plan provides the incentives to double our nation’s capacity to generate renewable energy... Read The Rest →

Skipping the curve

Most people at some point question what they’re doing… where their life is going… whether they’ve achieved enough or made the correct choices. Whether they should be playing this game or jacking it all in for a beach shack. This post is for all you guys. I, for one, sometimes get sick of the sound of my own voice, repeating the stuff of ‘those who get it’ – as if it’s still brand new. As long as there are ‘those who don’t get it’, perhaps we still feel good about... Read The Rest →

Discovery, discovery, discovery

‘This is the story of Rarg – a world of peace and tranquility. A world so perfect that the sun never rose until it was absolutely sure everybody was awake. Their vast library is filled with books, documenting the revelations of generations. For they discovered simply for the sake of discovery. So everybody was happy. The senator was never happier than when he was discovering new forms of happiness. Every day discoveries were made, some were large, some were tiny, and some discoveries had to be seen to be believed.’... Read The Rest →

Get out of the way

A few words on the publishing industry, inspired Alan Rusbridger’s [Editor in Chief, Guardian Media] recent comment that “These are the last printing presses we’ll ever buy”; and by an email I just received which included the quote “I would never read a book if I could talk half an hour with the person who wrote it”. Decline factors… - Inefficient many‐to‐many supply chain = high levels of wastage - Risk adverse publishers hamper the emergence of new authors - Entry to distribution channels is a fundamental barrier to new publishers setting up - Market data isn’t successfully harnessed to allow better decision making on which titles to produce - Publishers place more emphasis on fulfilling orders than on understanding customer needs - ICT adoption is... Read The Rest →

Out of the Silent Planet

Here’s a pertinent passage from C.S. Lewi’s ‘Out of the Silent Planet’… ‘Ransom, as time wore on, became aware of another and more spiritual cause for his progressive lightening and exultation of heart. A nightmare, long engendered in the modern mind by the mythology that follows in the wake of science, was falling off him. He had read of ‘Space’: at the back of his thinking for years had lurked the dismal fancy of the black, cold vacuity, the utter deadness, which was supposed to separate the worlds. He had... Read The Rest →

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