Pixar co-founder Ed Catmull reveals in a new book that the now-legendary animation company was nearly sold to General Motors and Philips for its technology, but the deal fell through just before it could be signed.
What happened at Pixar not only serves as an example of an innovative business but may also help explain one of the great transformations in recent history – Steve Jobs from his original Apple incarnation to his modern Apple incarnation.
He gained much better understanding of what worked with creative solutions and how to positively destroy things in order to move on to new areas.
Things would be so much different today if GM and Philips had gotten Pixar.
Posted by: Richard Gayle in: Distributed Democracy
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has canceled the Washington Redskins trademark registration, an extremely rare move the office said it made because the name is offensive to Native Americans.
Trademarks that disparage or belittle other groups are not permited under federal law. The ruling Wednesday pertains to six different trademarks containing the word “Redskin.”
Native American groups have been fighting the football team, its owners and sponsors for decades to change the name.
The ability of a distributed democratic approach to route around the damage of hierarchical authoritarians is one of its strength. Authoritarians can be very strong and focussed – their strength – which gives them early success against winds of change.
Like a a mighty tree, if the winds change rapidly, buffeting them hard from different directions, along with massive amounts of rain and a lightening bolt or two,, the oak tree will fall.
One distributed way to shift the wind and deal with the Washington team is for people simply not go to the games.
But today, not only was there a shift in the wind but a lightening bolt as well. And it did not use a tool of distributed democracy against the authoritarians.
It used one of hierarchical authoritarian’s own tools against itself – government bureaucracy. Not a mob with pitchforks and torches but a nice long legal document.
In America, our government is usually a direct reflection of how the people balance distributed democracy and hierarchical authority.
We as a society have made the decision that derogatory names cannot gain trademark protection. It has been incorporated into the authoritative power of the government.
That government – which can provide trademark protection – has now removed that protection from the Washington team, and the NFL. The ability of that trademark to generate large amounts of money for them is now pretty damaged.
This is a very big lightening bolt. This will hit the relevant parties in the pocket book but does not take away their First Amendment rights. They can name themselves what ever they want.
But we, as a society have determined that we will not protect that name with the authority of the government.
“Yesterday, there was a wall of Tesla patents in the lobby of our Palo Alto headquarters. That is no longer the case. They have been removed, in the spirit of the open source movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology.”
While we will have to see just what this means, it espouses something very important – a 21st century company must remain nimble and adaptive. Relying too much on patents and IP protection can induce complacency.
Patents may be a good defense but should not be really used to prevent someone else from innovating.
And patent trolls are a bane of our existence.
So good for Musk.
Most people would agree that many organizations today are too stiff, too slow and too disconnected to do well in the complex world we live in now.
Many large organizations have placed their bet on a new technology platform that will connect all their people’s work. Some think that real change can only come from the bottom up. Many feel that any form of hierarchy is outdated. Some talk about culture but are not clear about what this means.
Few are making any progress. So what is the better way to go?
Great discussion. We are out of balance dealing with complex problems because authoritarian hierarchies –so important for 20th century processes – are seen as the only way to get things done. Maybe for simply processes but not the complex ones facing us.
Distributed democratic approaches using social networks are all the rage. For the first time in 10,000 years we have major tools that leverage these inherent activities of humanity’s culture. They can now overpower hierarchies especially when examining complex processes.
But, they alone cannot solve what we face. Disctibuted democracy is great at cranking the DIKW cycle to get to knowledge. The problem arises because they often want to keep turning the cycle than actually take an action.
They can spend too much time talking and not enough time doing. I’ve written about the need for a Synthetic Organization, one that is leader-full bit leaderless.
We need some aspects of hierarchy to get things done. It is finding the right balance, designing feedback to permit leader-full approaches to survive while preventing the accretion of power that hierarchies can produce.
I have worked at organizations that found the right balance. We just did not have a firm understanding of why it worked.
Now we are getting much closer to defining how to create the balance between the two key aspects of human social interaction – authoritarian hierarchy and distrubuted democracy.
The groups that accomplish this will be the ones that truly helpus solve complex problems.
Reformers in health care claim gigantic disruption on the horizon: devices that track our movements, new treatments through massive data crunching, fluid electronic records that reflect the patient’s status wherever she goes, and even the end of the doctor’s role. But predictions in the area of health IT are singularly detached from the realities of the technical environment that are supposed to make them happen.
To help technologists, clinicians, and the rest of us judge the state of health IT, I’ve released a report titled “The Information Technology Fix for Health: Barriers and Pathways to the Use of Information Technology for Better Health Care.” It offers an overview of each area of innovation to see what’s really happening and what we need to make it progress further and faster.
Health has always been intimately connected with technology, from removing the handle of a drinking well to a handheld ultrasound wand.
Dealing with human health is probably the most complex system of endeavor mankind us currently trying to solve. Old, authoritarian, top-down approaches are giving way to newer, distributed, bottom-up paradigms.
And new digital tools are driving this.
Often we can only solve health problems because of the technological tools we have access to.
But healthcare has been slow to activate the greatest impacts of the digital revolution – to connect people and communities in ways to solve very complex problems. Healthcare’s natural attraction to the status quo for many medical needs– after all, if a doctor makes a mistake, people can die – means that therapeutic benefit often has to be shown BEFORE anything changes.
Patient healthcare data and its mining does not easily fit this paradigm. Authoritarian approaches stemming from the medical edifice we all face still drives almost all our health concerns. So change is slow.
But it is coming. Faster than many of the authoritarian processes can deal with.
This has not stopped people from doing the mining themselves. From places like 23andme, patientslikeme to crowdfunding projects, individuals are now taking much greater control of their health data.
And finding out all sorts of interesting things.
Often without any form of mediator, because they can.
(It reminds me of the battle I was part of almost 20 years ago. We needed to connect to the internet because it was becoming critical in order to do our biomedical research. The IT department was very reluctant and stonewalled, due to fear of disrupting things. We simply said we could connect to the internet without needing them. Our IT needs had become decentralized , distributed, and we could simply dial-up without needing the IT department at all. So we did.)
Medicine is becoming a more distributed system, decentralizing access and the practice of medicine. It is, in many way, at right angles and in conflict with the authoritarian processes we find in medicine today.
This holds tremendous opportunity to revolutionize what we know about medicine. But with tremendously disruptive effects on the status quo.
There will be real battles here but the conflict between the old, authoritarian system and the new, distributed system will find a balance which eventually helps us all.
Because it has real benefits. And it cannot really be stopped anyway.
Posted by: Richard Gayle in: Cargo Cult Worlds
A study by the University of Massachusetts found that 60 percent of adults could not have a 10-minute conversation without lying at least once. The same study found that 40 percent of people lie on their résumés and a whopping 90 percent of those looking for a date online lie on their profiles. Teenage girls lie more than any other group, which is attributed to peer pressure and expectation. The study did not investigate the number of lies told by entrepreneurs looking for investment capital, but I fear we would top the chart.
Peter maintains that telling lies is the No. 1 reason entrepreneurs fail. Not because telling lies makes you a bad person but because the act of lying plucks you from the present, preventing you from facing what is really going on in your world. Every time you overreport a metric, underreport a cost, are less than honest with a client or a member of your team, you create a false reality and you start living in it.
Drink a cup of coffee before reading this one.
Telling th truth, especially when it exposes errors you have made, can make you feel vulnerable. Especially with so many sociopathic people running things.
Looking weak is not a plus for sociopaths.
But telling lies creates a disconnect from reality, a Cargo Cult World that leads away from what actually happens. It invites more lies that divide you even more from reality.
Eventually you inhabit a world that not only does not exist but can actually prevent you from thriving in the real world.
Too many people today simply construct unsustainable Cargo Cult worlds to inhabit by lying to themselves and others. They will fall.
Here the author shows how even in business setting, telling the truth is best. Because Nature always wins.
This is a test.
The website was hacked, most likely due to the old theme I was using. I’ was looking to change it early next year anyway. Now I just have to accelerate it a bit.
So I’ve put in a transitional theme until then. Not pretty but it will have to do.
Let me know if you see anything weird.
All theoretical and empirical diffusion studies agree that an innovation diffuses along a S-shaped trajectory. Indeed, the S-shaped pattern of diffusion appears to be a basic anthropologic phenomenon.
This observation dates as far back as 1895 when the French sociologist Gabriel Tarde first described the process of social change by an imitative “group-think” mechanism and a S-shaped pattern. In 1983 Everett Rogers, developed a more complete four stage model of the innovation decision process consisting of: (1) knowledge, (2) persuasion, (3) decision and implementation, and (4) confirmation.
Consequently, Rogers divided the population of potential adopters according to their adoption date and categorized them in terms of their standard deviation from the mean adoption date. He presented extensive empirical evidence to suggest a symmetric bell shaped curve for the distribution of adopters over time. This curve matches in shape the first derivative of the logistic growth and substitution curve as shown below.
In the graph above I applied the Rogers adopter characterization to the data we have on the adoption of smartphones in
This is a very useful analysis of the way smartphones are diffusing throughout the US. I’ve written about the diffusion of innovation throughout a community many times and it is nice to see that smartphones are following the same curve.
Now, this post makes the point that the speed of adoption entails a learning stage. There have been 5 stages postulated in the personal adoption of something new: Awareness, Interest, Evaluation, Trial and Adoption.
Where someone falls along the adoption curve depends on how fast one moves through each stage. Innovators move very rapidly. The middle takes more time. In fact, they usually get stuck at the evaluation stage. They wait the thought leaders in the early adopter group to help them change.
Notice that the adoption of an innovation is slow until about 16% have made the shift. Then you see explosive and rapid growth, once the early adopters are on board.
So the faster the early adopters can evaluate and learn about the innovation, the faster it will spread. Perhaps by Apple making it easy to learn, especially for the thought leaders , allowed it to rapidly spread throughout a community.
Other phone makers, whose platform was not as easy to evaluate and learn, suffer from churn as the evaluation process becomes muddy and undirected.
By making the evaluation process easier, Apple makes it more likely that the necessary thought leaders will convince the rest of the community to shift. and see explosive growth.
This explains why the smartphone took off so fast once Apple released the iPhone and why everyone else copied them. The same thing happened with the iPad, while Microsoft had no luck with its tablets for years.
The key step to rapid adoption is not just cool technology. It must be made very easy for the critical early adopters to evaluate. That is Apple’s real innovation.
We’re deep into week 2 of teaching a Lean LaunchPad class for Life Sciences and Health Care (therapeutics, diagnostics, devices and digital health) this October at UCSF with a team of veteran venture capitalists. Part 1 of this post described the issues in the drug discovery. Part 2 covered medical devices and digital health. Part 3 described what we’re going to do about it. This is post is a brief snapshot of our progress.
I have been following Steve Blank’s journey into disrupting the way healthcare companies are funded off and on. He has brought the ‘Moneyball’ approach to funding, by using data rather than gut feelings.
As any good scientist does, he wants to do n experiment – can he teach a class on these principles to help startups get funding in a more defined way. And to change the VC industry, especially in healthcare, from looking only for home runs and perhaps consider that 3-4 singles will accomplish the same things.
As I have written before, the cost to get drugs to market today is simply too long and expensive. We must find better approaches. And this approach might just help us get there.
As with any experiment, it may not explain everything. But, as this video shows, it can help us create a better model for success.
Consider the Facts: moving people to deliberative thinking is an experiment in several ways. The project itself involves experimentation to examine a hypothesis.
But the process of raising money for research through crowdfunding is also an experiment. Can a group of people in the public sphere create, vet and support active scientific research? What is required to make that happen?
SpreadingScience has learned a lot and has some answers to those questions. One final one is whetehr we will reach our goal.
$25 would help a lot. Please help us answer that question.