Being forced to deal with change

ethernet cable by doortoriver

Feature: There is no Plan B: why the IPv4-to-IPv6 transition will be ugly
[Via Ars Technica]

Twenty years ago, the fastest Internet backbone links were 1.5Mbps. Today we argue whether that’s a fast enough minimum to connect home users. In 1993, 1.3 million machines were connected to the Internet. By this past summer, that number had risen to 769 million— and this only counts systems that have DNS names. The notion of a computer that is not connected to the Internet is patently absurd these days.

But all of this rapid progress is going to slow in the next few years. The Internet will soon be sailing in very rough seas, as it’s about to run out of addresses, needing to be gutted and reconfigured for continued growth in the second half of the 2010s and beyond. Originally, the idea was that this upgrade would happen quietly in the background, but over the past few years, it has become clear that the change from the current Internet Protocol version 4, which is quickly running out of addresses, to the new version 6 will be quite a messy affair.


While somewhat technological babble, the problems seen with running out of Internet addresses are very similar to ones we will continue to face over the coming years – having to make massive changes at the last moment because we did not do a good job thinking about the transition.

Like climate change, redoing the Internet’s addressing protocol will happen whether we want it or are prepared for it. And like climate change, we have wasted 20 years dithering.

And the transition may end up costing money, as older devices have to be replaced because they no longer work properly.

So, the next few years might be a nice demonstration of just how adaptive and resilient many organizations are. And not isolated organizations but almost all of them. One failure along the route can remove access for many.

We will be forced into a new regime where we have no experience and no real way to test possible solutions. Instead of one organization dropped in the deep end to sink or swim, imagine 50 all tied together, so if one goes down, the others may be dragged down also.

I figure we will muddle through like we have but a lot of productivity may be lost for some time as we make the transition that everyone knew we were going to have to make 20 years ago.

It does not give much hope that we will be any different with other complex problems facing us unless we change the way we do things.

A most innovative way to present some ideas on innovation

Where Good Ideas Come From, 4 minute version

Via Boing Boing]

Here’s a short video promo for Steven Johnson’s upcoming Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation, a lecture on the way that transformative ideas incubate for long times, come out of left field, and thrive best when there’s no one foreclosing on them because they’re too weird or disruptive.


I love this video. It encapsulates how new ideas come into being and that communication is critical. Organizations that make it easy for individuals to communicate and exchange ideas will have more innovative ideas.

This is slightly different than creating a social network that adopts and adapts to change easily, although they go hand in hand. Both reduce the friction of information exchange. What Johnson discusses are the connections that help disruptive innovators come up with their disruptive technologies. They connect to a wide range of other communities which can provide great ideas.

An adaptive community has the ability to filter and adopt new ideas rapidly. The good ideas get moved through rapidly, often interacting with others along the way to evolve into great ideas. There will also be strong links back to the disruptors, creating a knowledge cycle that gets to a solution faster.

A poorly adaptive community puts a road block on the ability of disruptors to connect to outside communities while at the same time providing sparse routes for their ideas to percolate through the organization. These communities not only have fewer innovative ideas, because of the lack of good communication linkages but will also be very resistant to adopting anything new, even if shown that the innovation is useful.

In a well balanced community, the communication between people has little to slow it down, disruptors connect to the communities they need for generating ideas, filters and mediators help discover the great ideas and pass them onto the doers, who can often reduce these ideas to practice. With the right feedback loops, this can be very efficient.

Web 2.0 approaches can be very effective in helping identify and support these types of adaptive communities.

The right mix in a social network is more important than anything else for driving innovation

innovative by Stig Nygaard

Is Narcissism Good for Business?
[Via ScienceNOW]

Narcissists, new experiments show, are great at convincing others that their ideas are creative even though they’re just average. Still, groups with a handful of narcissists come up with better ideas than those with none, suggesting that self-love contributes to real-world success.


The narcissists – a term I think may be misused here – are more likely to draw from the disrupter or mediator side of a network. They deviate from the normal flow of things in a network.

I hate the term ‘innovators’ applied to the earliest adopters in a network. Anyone can be innovative. WHat we are looking for here are those that most rapidly adopt changes and then are the most able to convince the community to adopt them

These experiments showed that a passionate pitcher could get people to adopt their idea, even when the idea was rated average by reading about it. The personal interactions were needed to pitch even an average idea.

But what was really interesting in the work was that teams of only disruptors (called narcissists) or only doers (no narcissists) were very poor at coming up with great ideas and innovations.

There are 5 steps everyone goes through when presented with a new idea and when deciding whether to adopt it. A key one is evaluation. I would suspect that teams with only disruptors race through this step so fast – that is why they are the earliest to change – that they really do not arrive at much that is worthwhile. Every idea seems as good as any other.

On the other hand, doers usually get stuck at the evaluation stage, only slowly taking the leap to adoption.the slowness to adopt change. So a team of doers would not get much done because they could never decide, getting stuck at evaluation.

But a well mixed team, one with both disruptors and doers, was the best one. This makes absolute sense. Because the doers slowed down the disruptors, forcing them to explain and rationalize all those novel ideas. The doers are also forced to make a decision because of the pressure from the disruptors.

By mixing both types, the ideas get much better evaluation, making it more likely that the best ideas will be adopted by the group. Each type overcomes the blind spots of the other – preventing the disruptors from moving too many ideas too rapidly through evaluation, while forcing the doers to pick the best ideas to adopt.

I can hardly wait for this paper to come out. It demonstrates that the best communities has the right mix of traits and that a community that is overbalanced in any one sector will be very slow to create and adopt innovative ideas.