Systematic Innovation

The thing that set’s Peter F. Drucker’s legacy apart from all the pop management books is one thing: Empiricism. Peter concentrated on observable, reproducible, systematic methodology. And he took the same attitude in Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

The secret to successful innovation and entrepreneurship for a private enterprise, a public enterprise or a fledgling enterprise involved pre-planning before any attempt to realize the idea took place. The success stories in Peter’s book took an idea that was not even necessarily their own and took the time to foresee the requirements for possibility, compatibility, reliability, affordability, distributability and ubiquity before they entered the life cycle of the product or service. They built a management team to achieve each of these milestones before they entered the life cycle as well. Only then did they execute, because there was no turning back.

It is just like a volley in tennis. The ball (opportunity) approaches and the tennis player observes that ball, positions herself, assesses her capabilities, decides where the return will land and only then makes her power curve lead into the ball, singularity contact, and power curve follow through, all the time never letting her eye off the ball until that volley’s life cycle ends.

Like I said to Seth Godin’s book, The Dip, you don’t make your decisions mid-stroke. It is not empirical and it is bad physics. Peter would say the same thing. He would say it is bad management as well.

Danger or Pluralarity?

Thinking about pluralities I was motivated to dig out and dust off my copy of Nicholas G. Carr’s book, Does IT Matter?: Information Technology and the Corrosion of Competitive Advantage. In this piece of pulp Nicholas droned on about the commoditization of hardware and software and the end of the IT industry.

What Nicholas was witnessing in 2003 was the plurality of one generation of hardware and software. Everybody had an office suite and enterprise software suite.  And rightly, they were no longer providing a competitive advantage. What Nicholas was experiencing was a complete lack of imagination with regard to the opportunities the pluralarity presented: the next generation of innovation leading to the next singularity.

In hind sight it was funny how Nicholas shook everybody up, but I didn’t find myself looking for a new career, I found myself looking for innovation and in many respects we found it in Open Source and Web 2.0 Social Software.

I have also found that Relational Database technology is reaching plurality and its limitations are becoming more pronounced as application developers test its limits. It simply does not have the flexibility we need. I’ve seen the future in the Associative Model of Data and have found it fits the Zachman Framework better than current technologies. The need is growing and this architecture fits it.

What Nicholas and all of us should have still been reading was this book:

Peter is still the authority when it comes to experience based instruction.

Systema: Opportunity vs. Chance

I have just been reading a post by Marc Andreessen regarding Dr. James Austin’s book Chase, Chance and Creativity. I have to say Austin was onto something, but chance is a lot of poppycock.

Austin says there are four categories of chance:

  1. Uninfluenced Chance.
  2. Active Chance.
  3. Receptive Chance.
  4. Personal Chance.

Uninfluenced chance just happens to you. Active chance happens because you are active in your environment. Receptive chance happens because you have a body of knowledge that makes you receptive to your environment. Personal chance happens because your uniqueness as an individual makes you uniquely active and receptive to your environment.

I think “chance” is the wrong word. Austin defines chance as “something fortuitous that happens unpredictably without discernable human intention.” I don’t look at things that way.

Personally, I believe there is only opportunity. Opportunities are always presenting themselves and it is simply a matter of induction and deduction that determines whether we take advantage of them.


The opportunities that we have depend upon which systems we are inducing and deducing with. There is no magic called “chance”. The variety of systems we induce and deduce with determine the variety of opportunities we have. The variety of systems we induce and deduce with also determines the content and structure of our system which influences what we are capable of inducing and deducing when the next opportunity presents itself. Finally, the more divergent the systems we induce and deduce with are from the norm the more likely we are to encounter novel opportunities.

Opportunity is every system we interact with outside ourselves whether we initiate that interaction or not.

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