Monday, January 27, 2014

The evolution of evolution

Back at EuroFoo 2004, I gave two talks - one on 3D printing and the other on Commoditisation of IT. In the latter talk, I discussed a generalised pattern for how things in IT evolved from their 'innovation' to more 'commodity'

By 2006, I had be using this pattern in various forms at around 40 conferences worldwide. The problem with the pattern was though I had numerous examples of it, I had none of the mechanics underlying it. The terms I used for the pattern (and also in mapping) are show in figure 1.

Figure 1 - The general pattern of evolution, 2004-2006

By mid 2007, by collecting and aggregating over 4,000 data points, I had managed to determine some of the mechanics of the pattern which covers activities, practices and data. This wasn't something that could be correlated over time but by comparison of ubiquity vs certainty (see figure 2)

Figure 2 - Evolution, the link between ubiquity and certainty, 2007

By late 2007, I had refined the pattern and determined the driving forces of supply and demand competition (see figure 3) though I did use both figure 2 and figure 3 throughout 2008.

Figure 3 - Forces behind evolution, 2007

Whilst the actual model itself hasn't changed since 2007, the modern version I use today is a cleaner visual representation with the term 'innovation' dropped in favour of genesis in 2011, see figure 4.

Evolution is a cornerstone behind the concept of mapping which is actually where the real value can be found. Naturally mapping had to change (in the sense of the terms used) as evolution did.

Figure 4 - The evolution graph - today

However, for me, it's interesting to note how my concept of evolution has itself evolved over time to a more stable form.

The use of mapping has enabled me to discover many different patterns of strategic play, answer common management issues and explore economic cycles. It has had real world effects since I first introduced the technique (in its earlier form) in 2005. A modern map, using the axis of evolution is provided in figure 5.

Figure 5 - A Map.

I allow myself a small bit of pride in both mapping and evolution because they are both genuine pieces of original work which did not exist beforehand and they both have use. Naturally, I know full well that at some point they will be superseded.

One thing to note is the link between evolution and diffusion. Evolution is derived from a series of diffusing and ever maturing instances of an act caused by competition ... that of course should be the subject of another post.