Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Transition from pattern matchers to innovators

Reading James Gardner's excellent post today on the discoveries he made while listening to a new string composition, I felt that he had identified a very important issue that was worth expanding on.  James identifies the concept of familiarity and patterns, which are central to our lives.  When those patterns are interrupted or changed, we tolerate the change and wait for the patterns to revert to our expected norms.  What's going to happen, then, if we can't adjust to new patterns of behavior, or outcomes?

As humans, we excel at pattern recognition.  We find patterns in nature, learn from those patterns and apply them to our benefit.  The same is true in education.  We train students to learn according to patterns, then we reinforce the patterns.  All of this focus on patterns culminates in business.  Most businesses are about identifying a few important patterns, determining that the patterns are viable and sustainable, and reducing the patterns to an algorithm which can be improved and made more efficient.

If you consider most large businesses today, they work to specific patterns.  Within an industry, the vast majority of competitors in an industry have the same business models and make money in the same ways.  The patterns are repeated - the same customer needs are met by a range of competitors using many of the same channels, offerings and features.  Over time the patterns and algorithms become more important than the market, which build walls and silos which dictate how businesses provide services to customers.  These patterns and algorithms create blind spots.  Businesses forget that patterns aren't permanent, and build monolithic structures to provide ever more efficient pattern matching solutions.

This is all well and good as long as patterns have long lives, and businesses are able to spot the shift in patterns and behaviors before they cause significant shifts in customer demand.  I believe that the era of long-lived patterns of behavior is ending, and with it much of what we hold dear about education and the way we do work.

Today, we place emphasis on validating patterns and developing algorithms which allow us to serve those patterns successfully.  Those algorithms take on more and more importance and become harder and harder to change.  We train people to spot patterns and align to the patterns.  All of this training and development may become moot, and perhaps even a hindrance, if patterns change more frequently, or if there are fewer and fewer consistent patterns of behavior.  If that's the case, we can't afford to train people to spot patterns and create algorithms, we need to train them to think about what's next.  Businesses can't scale up algorithms in monolithic solutions, they must remain flexible and nimble to address rapid shifts in patterns.  In short, if the life of patterns of behavior changes, everything about the way we educate people and the way most business processes work will need to change.

And that's when innovation, and the skills and capabilities inherent in innovation, will become even more valuable.  I'm arguing that we are living in the transition between long patterns and short patterns, driven by global shifts in demand, the rise of China and India, the decreasing importance of Western Europe, increased global trade, and many other factors.  What has been true for decades if not centuries is not likely to be true even in the next ten years.  How will your business react?  How will your educational systems react?
AddThis Social Bookmark Button
posted by Jeffrey Phillips at 7:26 AM


Anonymous Trademark Application said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:29 AM  
Anonymous cityiklan said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:24 PM  
Anonymous cure hemorrhoids naturally said...

very inspiring post..like it..

12:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot for this time sharing of innovation about TRANSITION FROM PATTERN MATCHERS TO INNOVATORS. This is really the best website about innovation i have ever read.
stop pre ejaculation

7:07 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home