Sunday, December 16, 2007

Finished ... just in time to start again

Just finished my latest article - phew. Which of course allows me to get back to writing my book, some consultancy work I need to finish and preparing my talks for 2008.

When I've finished my book I'll publish it under Creative Commons. However I thought I'd outline here where I'm going with it. Obviously as I'm writing it I do tend to refine things as I go along. It's all based upon the stuff I've been talking about over the years - so it probably won't be a surprise to anyone.

Coherence : an uncommon sense for a common sense world

Chapter 1 : Problem. An overview of the issues surrounding innovation, the growth of participation in many industries, managing by numbers, outsourcing and several paradoxes of modern economic life.

Chapter 2 : Definition. Sorting through the tangled mess of today means first getting some clear definitions of what terms actually mean. An idea is not a synonym for innovation and neither are synonymous with invention. Ubiquity is not a source of competitive advantage and commodification is not the same as commoditisation.

Chapter 3 : Example. Today, IT is under assault from a maelstrom of terms and concepts - from web 2.0 to enterprise 2.0, from utility computing to open standards, from XaaS to agile development. In this chapter we explore all these issues and characterise them according to our definitions.

Chapter 4 : Hypothesis. Our characterisation of IT points to an underlying framework, from invention to idea, from idea to innovation, from innovation to commodity. This framework describes how the characteristics of processes and products change during the transition from idea to commodity as well as the drivers for such transitions.

Chapter 5 : Concurrency. This framework is not peculiar to IT and examples of this can be seen in many industries from pharmaceuticals to music to finance. What was however specific to IT was the growth and profound impact of an 'open' meme. This meme has spread.

Chapter 6 : Prediction. Using the framework we predict a number of events for the future from the commoditisation of the manufacturing process, the growth of competitive utility markets and government regulation. We consider where this resurgent renaissance is heading.

Chapter 7 : Conflict. The framework provides an ordered overview on a bloody battlefield. We examine some of the generic conflicts of interest - Cost vs Worth, Dynamic vs Static, Emergent vs Declarative - as well as how allies can become bitter enemies - Patent vs Innovation. The largest conflict though is Organisation vs Innovation.

Chapter 8 : Organisation vs Innovation. One of the most startling aspects of the framework is that it shows a direct conflict between the common sense approach of modern organisation and the real world. Most firms are organised by function, however each function is a mass of different activities. The framework proposes that every activity has its own S-Curve of transition from idea to commodity, and that each function is nothing more than a mass of activities at different stages of their own extended S-Curves. This causes a conflict, as the ideal method of management changes with stage of activity and not with function. Management by function would appear to be the cause of the problems outlined in chapter 1 - from the difficulty in managing innovation to outsourcing. The chapter demonstrates a more effective approach to organisational structure based not on function but on stage of activity.

Chapter 9 : Coherence. Using the framework and structure, a range of generic strategies are outlined for dealing with the different characteristics of any organisational activity as it moves through various stage of the extended S-Curve. From innovation, to competitive advantage to cost of doing business. These strategies show how to manage the maelstrom of todays terminology and the issues surrounding innovation, outsourcing, participation and the economic paradoxes.

I'm looking for some more proof readers - so if you are interested, please contact me.