Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Meshing innovation, product development and production, marketing and sales as a virtuous cycle 18

Posted in business and convergent technologies, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on April 24, 2019

This is my 18th 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 1-17.)

I began discussing a set of topically related, and in fact interconnected points in Part 16 and Part 17 that I repeat here as I continue exploring and developing the narrative that they collectively raise:

1. What does and does not qualify as a true innovation, and to whom in this overall set of contexts?
2. 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?
3. 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 co-occurrence of a pattern of acceptance and resistance to that, that would be expected from marketplace adherence to a more standard innovation acceptance diffusion curve? To clarify the need to address this issue here, and the complexities of actually doing so in any specific-instance case, I note that the more genuinely disruptively new an innovation is, the larger the percentage of potential marketplace participants would be, that would be expected to hold off on accepting it and at least for significant periods of time, and with their failure to buy and use it lasting throughout their latency-to-accept periods. 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 so, longer term and as they become more individually comfortable with its particular form of New. Their marketplace activity, or rather their lack of it would qualify more as noise in this system, and certainly 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.
4. 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.
5. 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?

More specifically, I offered an at least preliminary working answer to the question raised in the above Point 1 in Part 17. And I began addressing Point 2 there too, with that of necessity meaning at least touching on Point 3 as well, reframing it in terms of my Points 1 and 2 comments. My goal for this posting is to more fully develop my more preliminary responses to Points 1 and 2 as already offered and to continue laying a foundation for more systematically discussing Point 3 as well. And as I noted at the end of Part 17, that means my at least in part, offering a reconsideration here of:

• The demographic groups involved here and their members, and how they are behaviorally defined: from within or by outside shaping pressures or both.

I begin all of this by repeating a bullet pointed detail that I initially offered in a Point 1 context, that:

• Innovation is change that at least someone might realistically be expected to see as creating at least some new source or level of value, however small, at least by their standards and criteria.

And I begin expanding upon that by adding in some key additional words: “… or challenge”, as in “… at least some new source or level of value or challenge, however small.” Perception and response in that, are of necessity grounded in the minds of the “at least someone” who would make such a determination.

I at least implicitly raised two possibilities at to the nature of the Who of this in Point 2, when I cited two possible patterns that response of this sort might categorically fit into:

• A standard innovation acceptance diffusion curve and its various demographics, with those cohorts ranging from those predisposed towards being among the earliest adaptors to New, on out to those more predisposed towards waiting until any innovation that they are confronted with proving itself first and until it is not longer a current new innovation at all.
• And a more societally defined pattern of acceptance or denial that is based more on a distinction as to whether a new source of change supports or threatens an already existing order.

Note that the former of these possibilities posits that individuals behave in ways that can be characterized as fitting into and consistently following demographic level patterns here. But it is still the individuals involved who make determinative decisions there as to whether to buy in now or wait. And beyond that, such determinations are made based on the change faced: the innovative New itself, and how its adaption would support or challenge the individuals who collectively comprise the demographics at play here. But the later: the second of those patterns with its global flattening versus global wrinkling dynamics, is at least as much about where this New came from. Global flattening as a basic paradigm seeks to rapidly geographically diffuse out access to and use of new best of breed solutions and approaches and as widely as possible, while globally wrinkling pushes back against that as a threat to the communities and societies that would have to change as a consequence of this influx of new. That can mean challenges to local businesses and industries, and the local economies in place that they enter into. But at least as importantly, that can mean push back responses to perceived threats to local cultures and traditions too. So in this second paradigm’s perspective, reaction and certainly push-back reaction is at least as much about what would be pushed aside and lost as it is about what would come in as new that arguably might supplant or at the very least marginalize that.

And this brings me directly and specifically to the questions and the challenges of Who is determinatively shaping and driving all of this.

• I just stated that the dynamics of the innovation acceptance diffusion curve is more individually grounded. But people do both learn from others, and influence others as well – and certainly when they more directly communicate with each other, or take recourse to the same more centrally published news and opinion sources that might address the change possibilities that they face, and that might influence or even shape their views on that.
• And I just stated that the dynamics of global flattening and wrinkling are more societal in nature, but even there, they are actually carried out by individuals, who might or might not go along with the more expected community and societal norms that might be playing out around them. Individuals in a more actively global flattening society can still say “but I am not interested in buying into that” and individuals who live in societies that are more resistant to change, and supportive of preserving and advancing their status quo and their local systems, can still say “but I am interested in buying into that and I want to.”

And this brings me to the Point 4 (from the above list) questions and issues of the demographic groups involved here and their members, and how they are behaviorally defined: from within or by outside shaping pressures or both. And that is where social networking and its taxonomy of key influencers enters this narrative too.

First of all, I have to note that while I more usually discuss social networking and social influence pressures from an online-connected perspective in this blog, the forces and factors that I address there have richly detailed and nuanced histories that both precede and still exist independently of any given technologies or technology-enabled or created connectivity platforms. Humans are a social species and seek out opportunities to converse and to share, and to organize and to build inclusive groups. And at the same time they can just as actively build boundaries between groups, defining their local communities from that too – and regardless of which specific networking and communicating forms and forums they would use to create and enable all of this. So what follows is not technology dependent and it is certainly not specific-technology dependent (e.g. it is not dependent on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter or any other sharing platforms more currently in vogue and use.) What follows addresses processes and activities that have roots that run as deep as humanity does as a species, and perhaps even deeper and with older precedents than that.

To clarify that last point I cite one of many possible research paper references on primate learning behavior, that originally appeared in the journal Primate in May, 2013: Food Washing and Placer Mining in Captive Great Apes. While primate groups have been observed to wash sand and dirt off of food such as fruits or vegetables before eating them, as more widely held and shared traits in communities and for primates of a variety of species, there is also a set of learning curve examples that would suggest how this type of behavior can start and spread in such a community. One example that comes to mind involved a community that did not wash the sand off of food tossed to them on sandy soil near flowing water, until one juvenile member of that community tried doing so. Other juveniles began doing this too. Then their mothers began washing their food. And then other adults began trying this new innovation too and its use continued to spread until essentially the entire community was now washing sand off of their food before eating it. There, the innovation was a food handling process and this example might perhaps best fit a classical innovation acceptance diffusion curve. But just as tellingly it follows the patterns laid down by social networking and community-level power and influence held by those social networkers and influencers. Interestingly, it was the more dominant males in this community who were the last holdouts to finally begin washing their food too: the members of this community who others turned to for leadership and who were least likely to turn to others themselves for new ideas or possibilities.

And with that, I return to consider humans again, and their responses to the challenges and opportunities of New and of innovation that drives it. I am going to continue this discussion in a next series installment where I will make use of an approach to social network taxonomy and social networking strategy that explicitly addresses the issues of who networks with and communicates with whom, and that also can be used to map out patterns of influence as well: important to both the basic innovation diffusion model and to understanding the forces and the dynamics of global flattening and wrinkling too. In anticipation of that discussion to come, that is where issues of agendas enter this narrative. Then after discussing that, I will explicitly turn to the above-repeated Point 3: a complex of issues that has been hanging over this entire discussion since I first offered the above topics list at the end of Part 16 of this series. And I will address a very closely related Point 4 and its issues too, as already briefly touched upon here.

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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