Archive for December, 2009

Chaos vs Control and the Fourth Paradigm

One of the principles of Excellence by Design is ‘Chaos vs Control’

Chaos vs Control: the increasing tension between technology and its capabilities which grow in emergent and unanticipated (chaotic) ways, and the opposing yet increasing demand to assure (control) those capabilities are understood, secured, and properly managed.

A great example of this principle is the effect that advancements in computational capabilities are having on science itself, originally coined ‘The Fourth Paradigm’ by Jim Gray of Microsoft.  A nice summary was recently provided in this NY Times article.  Since’s Gray’s untimely death a couple years ago, his fellow researchers have bundled some of the writings together and it is available for free off the MS site, use this link to access the PDF.

This is similar to a trend I described back in the mid–90’s as part of a simple model I called ‘Business Transformation using the Internet’. This model described the evolution of ebusiness as going thru 4 stages: Telling, Selling, Linking, and Thinking.  As computation becomes more advanced (through hardware and software), machines can process more data, more deeply, and essentially begin doing the ‘Thinking’ for us (to an increasing degree anyway).

So the Fourth Paradigm is another example of the ‘Thinking’ phase of ebusiness, and drives greater Chaos vs Control because it delivers faster and potentially more chaotic insight, that requires commensurate control.

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Excellence by Design…in a nutshell

I just posted a new page on the blog site which has a brief overview of the challenge and key principles of Excellence by Design.  You can click on the page, or if you are getting this blog entry via a feed, just click here.

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Excellence in an unpredictable world

Recently I was asked by some professional acquaintances the question:

what are the newly emerging opportunities that business may capitalize on?

My response was that the game has radically changed in that the challenge is not the ‘prediction’ of the next opportunity because the world has radically changed to be essentially uncontrollable and unpredictable.

This is a trend I have seen accelerate over the last 20 years, driven by technology certainly…for as technology has enabled more capability and faster results, it has given way to more change…in unpredictable ways.  Technology advancement has evolved from simply automating repetitive tasks, to enabling what if scenario thinking, to greater human connectivity, and now to entirely new ways of thinking, decision making, and taking action.

But technology was only a driver.  There are other forces at work now.  Business, as it has become more global and more competitive, has become more innovative (and the implication is more unpredictable) in attempting to beat competition.

Governments are also changing.  They are both under more scrutiny, and struggling to make the progress (good or bad) they seek.  This also is highlighting the potential unpredictability of their behavior.  Who would have thought that Dubai would default on billions of dollars in loans?  The amazing thing is how surprised the business world was.  This is not an isolated case.

But the perhaps the single greatest driver of unpredictability and lack of control is rise of consumerization.  As consumers have become better enabled (through technology and its related ability to connect consumers everywhere, to everything),  they have driven vast new changes in demand.  Their knowledge and expectations are higher, and both their flocking towards something, and independence of choice, have created greater uncertainty and loss of control.

So…if a business is to become Excellent in the future, they must recognize that the ability to succeed in an environment of increasing unpredictability is key.

How they do that is the subject of this blog and my upcoming book. 😉

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Emerging Opportunities


Below is something I wrote while doing some consulting for some colleagues.

Emerging Opportunities for Excellence


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December 9, 2009 Leave a comment

Welcome. This blog is focused on the subject of Excellence in business.  More specifically, driving Excellence by Design.  By that I mean using great design as the basis for achieving excellence.  This has been a common interest of mine throughout my career in Information Technology, so most of what you will encounter will have an IT related but the premise of Excellence by Design is general and so you’ll see general business applicability.

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