Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Meshing innovation, product development and production, marketing and sales as a virtuous cycle 16

Posted in business and convergent technologies, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on December 16, 2018

This is my 16th installment to a series in which I reconsider cosmetic and innovative change as they impact upon and even fundamentally shape the product design and development, manufacturing, marketing, distribution and sales cycle, and from both the producer and consumer perspectives (see Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time 2 and its Page 3 continuation, postings 342 and loosely following for Parts 1-15.)

I have been building a foundation for more explicitly addressing this set of issues from a larger and even globally reaching perspective in this series since its Part 14. And as a significant part of that, I have been discussing the conflicting pressures of globalization and global flattening, and push-back to that with the global wrinkling that it creates.

I focused in large part in Part 15 on what those two alternatives mean, with particular attention taken in putting localization of communication and innovation diffusion, and localization of marketplace and trade in an historical perspective. I in fact delved into prehistory there too, as supportively evidenced by the archeological record, to indicate that people have reached out beyond the boundaries of their own cultures, languages and customs to others, for what are probably at least tens of thousands of years. Push-back and any drives toward isolationism that might have taken place throughout that span of time would not be as likely to leave identifiable records. And that certainly holds true given the clarity and trade-identifying value of the discovery of what had to be distantly sourced trade goods as have been found in numerous archeological sites. But it is likely that earlier versions of the globalization and global flattening, and the wrinkle building resistance to it that we see in this 21st century, both have roots that antedate any possible historical records of any sort.

So I offered in Part 15, what is probably only a locally situationally accurate cartoon alternative to the reaching out that we now think of as globalization. Or to be more precise, I offered two variations on that, the first of which is probably more widely accurate for having actually taken place:

• Very limited contact and exchange of individually high value totemic objects with no real ongoing trade and certainly with no ongoing exchange of anything like more routine commodities,
• And more complete isolation and certainly as that would arise in context where human communities were so geographically isolated so as to preclude any possible contact.

I note, with the second of those models in mind that long-term, such isolation would prove difficult if not impossible to maintain, and even for seemingly completely isolated ocean bound island communities. I cite by way of example, the totemic item exchanges and I add deeper cultural values sharing that early Pacific island communities entered into, and both among the Micronesian and the Melanesian peoples, from before their first contact with the West (see, for example: History of the Pacific Islands.)

I wrote about global flattening and its reactive counterpoint in what is largely resistance-based reaction to that: wrinkling and the erection and reinforcement of barriers to open-ended flattening and its open market approach, in Part 15. And in the course of that, I used the word “homogenization” once, as a source of justification to that resistance. I would effectively begin this posting and its intended narrative by expanding a little on what the two sides of the flattening versus wrinkling dynamic actually involve, and certainly as this further discussion might shed light on the basic issues that I have planned on addressing here, with my intended focus on innovation and its diffusion and reach, and on the business cycles that drive it and that are in turn driven by it too.

First of all, wrinkles can and do arise simply because outside, or internally arising change agents can find themselves confronted by the momentum of what has come before and of “how things have always been done here”, and with whatever understandings that are in place as to what that means in a practical, consequential sense. Change and perceived perils coming from it can engender resistance from the local order and its understanding of how everything should be, at least by default. Globalization and the open globally reaching marketplace and business reach, have met resistance and on multiple levels and for multiple overlapping and interlocking reasons, including threat of loss of control over one’s economy, threat to one’s local and national businesses being able to compete without being swept away in spite of their effort, and even threat to the cultural identities of the people who live in globalization resistance areas. Even local native languages at least in principle, come under challenge when they are only more locally spoken and all trade and commerce, and all cultural and entertainment content that would flow in as a part of this flattening, arrives in one or perhaps a few of the small number of globally dominant languages. English is of course one such dominant language and certainly as of this writing, but Mandarin Chinese and a few others also widely qualify too, and increasingly so.

So flattening versus wrinkling can be seen as a basic conflict between:

• The pressures and desires to expand out all connectivity and for all of the efficiencies of scale and all of the expansion of opportunity that can bring, where these benefits would be unequally distributed among participants as globalization is currently taking shape
• And the pressures and anxieties of possible risk and loss, where they would of necessity also be unevenly distributed and with benefits going to a primarily developed-world few and their nations, with most risk and loss accruing to a larger and less powerfully placed, largely still-developing third world and its nations.
• The key to understanding both of these visions of globalization can be found in a two word phrase that I made use of in both of the two immediately preceding bullet points: “unequally distributed.” And this inequality can perhaps best be understood as a globally reaching perception, and certainly for people in areas where resistance to globalization can most actively be found. Perceived threats to locally prevailing cultures and religions qualify there, at least for those who feel threatened by this seeming flood of change, and those perceived challenges are clearly the primary motivators for this resistance in a number of areas of the world, with push-back in the Middle East just one possible example there.

I have in fact touched upon several of the issues that I have just raise here, and in more detail in other series of this blog. I simply reiterate and reorganize some of the details of those earlier discussions here again, to flesh out some relevant context that I will refer back to as I proceed in addressing the core issues of this series. The same forces and the same desires and concerns that I have just written of here, and certainly in a more current global context, apply on smaller scales too where differing economies, but more importantly where differing peoples meet and have to arrive at sets of shared terms in which they can interact more productively. That would ultimately – at least hopefully mean the development of new sources of value that would benefit all involved parties, and in ways that all could agree upon as achieving that goal.

• As a crucially important aside, I add here that actually resolving the conflicts of global flattening and wrinkling and actually arriving at a shared sense of acceptable levels of mutual benefit and for all parties involved, is going to prove to be essential to resolving some of the most pressing problems that we face, and both locally and intra-nationally, and regionally and globally in this 21st century. Ultimately the key driver behind most of those challenges is an ongoing at least perceived sense of have versus have-not inequality. And actually reaching such a resolution is going to call for all parties, and certainly all major parties involved, understanding and respecting the needs and the concerns of others, and with this including all essential gatekeeper participants, whose decisions and actions could enable or block.
• The issues and the approaches that I offer here for addressing trade and related issues, and the resistance to openness in that arena, have impact that goes far beyond the marketplace, going to the heart of the challenge that we face from global terrorism too, where the angers and frustration that would lead to global wrinkling take on more violently confrontational forms. So while this series is about business innovation and its business and marketplace cycles, the issues that I raise here have direct implications that extend far beyond that too.

That said, I turn back to Part 15 and its end-of-posting to-address list of upcoming topics points. My first goal there was to complete developing and offering a foundation for more focused discussion of innovation and its cycles as they would play out – or not, in local and global contexts. My goal from there in further developing this series was to use that posting and this one as a starting point for further discussing innovation and its cycles. And I will at least begin addressing that complex of issues, in my next installment to this series, starting with discussion of the following topic points:

• What does and does not qualify as a true innovation, and to whom?
• And where, at least in general terms could this New be expected to engender resistance and push-back, and of a type that would not simply fit categorically into the initial resistance patterns expected from a more standard cross-demographic innovation acceptance diffusion curve and its acceptance and resistance patterns?
• How in fact would explicit push-back against globalization per se even be identified, and certainly in any real case-in-point detail of impact example, given the pattern of acceptance and resistance that would be expected from marketplace adherence to an innovation acceptance diffusion curve pattern? To clarify the need to address this issue here, and the complexities of actually doing so in any specific-instance case, I note here that the more genuinely disruptively new an innovation is, the larger the percentage of potential marketplace participants would be that can be expected to hold off on accepting it, with their failure to buy and use it. But that failure to buy in on the part of these involved demographics and their members does not in and of itself indicate anything as to their underlying motivation for doing this. Their marketplace activity, or rather their lack of it would qualify more as noise in this system, when anything like a real-time analysis is attempted to determine underlying causal mechanisms in the market activity and marketplace behavior in play. As such, any meaningful analysis and understanding of the dynamics of the marketplace in this can become highly reactive and after the fact, and particularly for those truly disruptive innovations that would only be expected to appeal at first to just a small percentage of early and pioneer adaptor marketplace participants.
• This leads to a core question of who drives resistance to globalization and its open markets, and how. And I will address that in social networking terms.
• And it leads to a second, equally important question here too: how would globalization resistance-based failure to buy in on innovation peak and then drop off if it were tracked along an innovation disruptiveness scale over time?

I expect to add more topics issues to this list, fleshing it out for detail and explanatory reach as I proceed, but offer this to-address list for now. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings and series at Business Strategy and Operations – 5, and also at Page 1, Page 2, Page 3 and Page 4 of that directory. And see also Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time and its Page 2 and Page 3 continuations.

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