The Future of Zero Marginal Cost at CIIC on 3 September 2016

zeromarginalcost

Zero marginal cost explains why zero-waste value cycles are of extreme importance. A related book titled The Zero Marginal Cost Society by Jeremy Rifkin makes the case that vertically integrated industries have no future, and that decentralised networks and collaborative niche construction define the new organisational and economic structure.

Technology evolves faster than most people realise. Vast amounts of software are open source. Software vendors increasingly provide only a thin candy wrapper around open source technology. The wrapper is becoming a distraction, and often contains no value whatsoever. Software and electronics are commoditised, and it is increasingly impossible to make a big margin on technological innovation.

Dr. Pete Rive, one of the founding members of the Colab Industry Advisory group at AUT university, will present a keynote talk at the CIIC unconference on 3 September 2016 about the implications of zero marginal cost on the future of human societies.

 

Topics proposed for discussion

Join the CIIC community of innovators for the 5th conference in open space, and use interdisciplinary collaboration and systems thinking to address challenges such as:
  • economic progress in NZ
  • sustainable supply chains
  • effective healthcare
  • blending human interaction and automated  processes
  • energy efficient transport and housing
  • the limits of financialised economics
  • development of embryonic industries

The list of submitted  CIIC problem statements is growing. We are in particular looking forward to progressing the discussion of concrete challenges in the healthcare sector.

The last CIIC event on 4 March 2016

Participants started with the notion of People + Purpose = Performance to frame a discussion of core challenges within the healthcare sector in New Zealand.

Topics:

  • Design and development of tools for effective self-care: With increasing numbers of people dealing with health issues that don’t go away, e.g. diabetes, we need to find innovative ways to help them keep as healthy and independent as possible. How do we engage people in self-care that is effective, and what are the tools that we can use to keep them engaged? Monitoring and education tools are good, but surely there are other tools we can develop to solve this problem of people needing supervision, coaching and clinical guidance from doctors and nurses who are already overworked and only accessible for short consultations.
  • How do we mobilise and align NZ’s policy, research, healthcare and commercial capabilities to deliver world-leading health outcomes, generate substantial economic returns, and attract, develop and retain talent?

Results and insights

Topics covered in earlier CIIC events

economic value networks

Topics:

  • Is there a place for barter? It seems likely that money, and hence financial systems, arose from bartering.  How did this happen, how did bartering arise in the first place, and what does it tell us about the modern world/what can we use it for?
  • How do we need to redefine economic progress?
  • What is value? How do value systems influence the process of creating and maintaining trust?
  • Which values can be said to be universal across most cultures? What specific values are conducive to innovation and long-term collaboration?

Results and insights

Open Space

CIIC is an entirely participant driven open space event.

  • Whoever comes are the right people
  • Whatever happens is the only thing that could have
  • When it starts is the right time
  • When it’s over it’s over

open space technology

The Management Shift at CIIC on 5 March 2016

To kick off the series of CIIC Keynote Talks, we have invited Vlatka Hlupic, the Founder and CEO of the Drucker Society London, to participate in the CIIC unconference on 5 March 2016 via a video link.

Vlatka will talk about her latest book, The Management Shift, which was selected by Forbes as one of the top eight business books in 2014.

the-management-shift

CIIC Keynote Talks focus on specific anti-patterns and on examples of how these anti-patterns can be overcome.

So what is The Management Shift?

The Management Shift by Vlatka Hlupic is a timely reminder that a growing number of people are independently coming to very similar conclusions on how to create lasting value, not because they all are reading exactly the same research and are attending the same conferences, but because comparable conclusions are being reached from different perspectives, and based on complementary underlying data sets.

However, no matter how compelling the reasoning and the evidence, it is up to the readers to perform the shift. More than 30 years ago W Edwards Deming raised awareness about the deadly diseases of management, and these diseases are well and alive today. Creating a shift in the hearts and the minds of those who lead and manage is long overdue.

Vlatka Hlupic’s final words in The Management Shift allow readers to take a bird’s-eye perspective of human endeavour, and to shift to a flock of bird model of collaboration.

Vlatka Hlupic correctly points out the need for giving up authority.

My recommendation for performing the shift: Don’t lead. Live! Courageously and honestly. Care about the lives of others, and trust the talents and skills of those that live by a compatible set of values. Take the front position whenever required, when you have the energy, and let your peers know when you need a break.

Topics proposed for discussion on 5 March 2016

The list of submitted  CIIC problem statements is growing. We are in particular looking forward to discussing challenges in the healthcare sector.

Results to Date

In order to be successful on the world stage, and to address the social, economic, and environmental challenges that lie ahead, New Zealand researchers and innovators must develop a culture that encourages diversification, and that bridges organisational boundaries and traditional research silos.

The primary industries, the healthcare sector, related technological innovators, and digital government are key pillars of the New Zealand economy. In most cases, breakthrough innovation is the result of intensive interdisciplinary research and development, often drawing on insights from disciplines that may lie beyond the focus of attention and the capabilities of a particular organisation, faculty, or government initiative.

3rd CIIC event, 5 December 2015

Participants explored the potential of new means of economic collaboration.

Topics:

  • Is there a place for barter?
  • It seems likely that money, and hence financial systems, arose from bartering.  How did this happen, how did bartering arise in the first place, and what does it tell us about the modern world/what can we use it for?

Results and insights

2nd CIIC event, 26 September 2015

Building on the results of the first unconference, participants focused on two related questions.

Topics:

  • How do we need to redefine economic progress?
  • What is value?

Results and insights

1st CIIC event, 16 June 2015

The CIIC-off event on 16 June 2015 was a great success. The entire day was spent in productive working groups, and all participants were engaged in lively discussion.

Topics:

  • How do value systems influence the process of creating and maintaining trust?
  • Which values can be said to be universal across most cultures?
  • What specific values are conducive to innovation and long-term collaboration?

Results and insights

CIIC Auckland 2015 12: Solving economic problems ≠ Solving financial problems

economics-is-not-finance

The third CIIC unconference explored the problem statement submitted by Stephen Marsland:

Is there a place for barter?

It seems likely that money, and hence financial systems, arose from bartering.  How did this happen, how did bartering arise in the first place, and what does it tell us about the modern world/what can we use it for?

barteringParticipants examined how modern communication and software technologies can assist in the process of facilitating economic exchange by way of constructing value cycles without incurring the trappings of highly financialised economics.

Here is a summary of the results.

Many thanks again to everyone who participated in and contributed to the CIIC discussions on 5 December 2015!

I hope we will soon meet again at the upcoming Meetup on 4 March 2016, and continue the work in progress towards collaborative solutions to wicked problems in New Zealand at CIIC on 5 March 2016. The next unconference will feature a keynote talk by Vlatka Hlupic on The Management Shift, which was selected by Forbes as one of the top eight business books in 2014.

Innovation of education

house of cards

There is no simple fix to the education system. The problems in the education systems of many countries are symptoms of a bigger cultural dysfunction. Acquiring knowledge must not be confused with memorising information and acquiring beliefs.

The goal of teaching must change from transmitting factual information to the cultivation of thinking tools. Knowing how to ask useful questions and knowing how to reason and use the scientific method is much more important than memorising answers.

Parents strive to give their children a head start. At school children are being taught how to be persuasive before they are being taught how to reason. Children are discouraged from thinking deeply, and  are often discouraged from asking probing questions. Popularity and conformance is valued over divergent thinking. What does this tell us about society?

Old habits and perceptions about the purpose of education are not unlearned quickly, this goes for teachers as much as for students and their parents. Techniques for unlearning obsolete assumptions and questionable ideologies need to be taught.

Many still perceive the goal of teaching as being the transmission of factual and cultural information. Much of the role of transmitting  information – some validated and some questionable – is now being taken over by YouTube and other web based tools. The old role of the teacher is dead.

This is an opportunity to create a new and valuable teacher role. We swim in oceans of data, yet validated and useful knowledge remains rare. In the fast paced transactional culture of competitive economics, there is no time for considering evidence. This is a wider cultural problem, not a problem of education.

Technologies are spreading faster and changing faster than human societies can keep up with. Assuming that children need to learn in preparation to “work” and to perform “jobs” is already an obsolete belief. Anyone with hands-on experience in advanced automation, including the automation of software design and development, knows this. The age of work and jobs is over.

However, less work does not imply any less need to think. Thinking is more important than ever, and the more people remain stuck in the busyness demanded by the old economic paradigm, the less thinking happens. We need to rethink what the word economics means, and it is time to reconsider which kinds of human activities and behaviours need to be valued, and which ones have to be considered counter-productive going forward.

Software technologies are language systems, and they also represent encodings of the ideologies of the organisations that have developed the software. Ideologies must not simply be consumed, they must be questioned and the underlying interests must be exposed and understood.

Ted Nelson captures this increasingly relevant concern in the following words:

All human artifacts are technology.  But beware anybody who uses this term.  Like “maturity” and “reality” and “progress”, the word “technology” has an agenda for your behavior: usually what is being referred to as “technology” is something that somebody wants you to submit to.  “Technology” often implicitly refers to something you are expected to turn over to “the guys who understand it.”
This is actually almost always a political move.  Somebody wants you to give certain things to them to design and decide.  Perhaps you should, but perhaps not.

CIIC Keynote Talks

Going forward each CIIC unconference will incorporate a keynote talk that relates to one or more aspects of interdisciplinary innovation and collaboration.

The first two CIIC unconferences in 2015 have already uncovered fundamental stumbling blocks that regularly get in the way of effective interdisciplinary collaboration and deep innovation. It  is important to recognise that most stumbling blocks are recurring anti-patterns that can only be broken by stepping outside the typical thinking patterns and metrics that are used to frame innovation challenges and related objectives.

The CIIC Keynote Talks by internationally recognised experts in interdisciplinary collaboration, innovation, organisational transformation, and thinking tools will focus on specific anti-patterns and on examples of how these anti-patterns can be overcome.

the-management-shift

To kick off the series of CIIC Keynote Talks, we have invited Vlatka Hlupic, the Founder and CEO of the Drucker Society London, to participate in the CIIC unconference on 5 March 2016 via a video link.

Vlatka will talk about her latest book, The Management Shift, which was selected by Forbes as one of the top eight business books in 2014.

So what is The Management Shift?

The Management Shift by Vlatka Hlupic is a timely reminder that a growing number of people are independently coming to very similar conclusions on how to create lasting value, not because they all are reading exactly the same research and are attending the same conferences, but because comparable conclusions are being reached from different perspectives, and based on complementary underlying data sets.

However, no matter how compelling the reasoning and the evidence, it is up to the readers to perform the shift. More than 30 years ago W Edwards Deming raised awareness about the deadly diseases of management, and these diseases are well and alive today. Creating a shift in the hearts and the minds of those who lead and manage is long overdue.

Vlatka Hlupic’s final words in The Management Shift allow readers to take a bird’s-eye perspective of human endeavour, and to shift to a flock of bird model of collaboration.

Vlatka Hlupic correctly points out the need for giving up authority.

My recommendation for performing the shift: Don’t lead. Live! Courageously and honestly. Care about the lives of others, and trust the talents and skills of those that live by a compatible set of values. Take the front position whenever required, when you have the energy, and let your peers know when you need a break.

At upcoming CIIC unconferences we will look at further important aspects of interdisciplinary collaboration, innovation, and organisational transformation, and at related thinking tools.

Amongst other things we are intending to cover the topics of the following milestone books that have been published over the last three years:

Reinventing Organizations

Frederic Laloux, 2014

Reinventing Organizations tackles the question of how to create scalable and innovative organisations without incurring the trappings of hierarchies, which include high overhead costs, loss of organisational agility, erosion of innovative capability, and significantly reduced levels of staff engagement.

Frederic Laloux observes that the consciousness of human societies develops in stages, not unlike the stages of mental development of individuals that have been analysed and described by Robert Kegan, Lisa Laskow Lahey, and others.

What makes Reinventing Organizations a unique book that stands out is that Frederic Laloux has taken the time to analyse a dozen of non-hierarchical organisations of substantial scale, across various industries and geographies, to distil the essence of what these organisations have in common, and how their structure and behaviour differs from traditional forms of organisation.

Zero Marginal Cost Society

Jeremy Rifkin, 2014

In Zero Marginal Cost Society Jeremy Rifkin explains why zero-waste value cycles are of extreme importance.  Zero Marginal Cost Society makes the case that vertically integrated industries have no future, and that decentralised networks and collaborative niche construction define the new organisational and economic structure.

Littlebits is a very good example of the changes in innovation that Jeremy Rifkin is talking about, and it illustrates what is already available here and now. Technology evolves faster than most people realise. Vast amounts of software are open source. Software vendors increasingly provide only a thin candy wrapper around open source technology. The wrapper is becoming a distraction, and often contains no value whatsoever.

Open source hardware is not only for hobbyists. Facebook is one of the leading players in the open hardware movement. Electronics and hardware is commoditised, and it is increasingly impossible to make a big margin on technological innovation. Apple is perhaps one of the few remaining exceptions, but it is difficult to see how Apple can survive in its current form for another 20 years. Even over a 10 year period I would not want to bet on Apple or any other technology company that is not fully committed to open source.

Addicted to Performance

John S. Bircham & Heather J. Connolly, 2013

Addicted to Performance analyses the way organisations handle risks, and contains plenty of case studies that relate specifically to New Zealand and to Australia. The title hints at what happens if an organisation focuses exclusively on financial efficiency and profit.

John S. Bircham and Heather Connolly analyse the root causes that lead to  systematic ignorance of low probability risks with a high impact on society and ecological systems.

In particular two kinds of feedback loops in social-ecological systems are often ignored: Feedbacks across different levels of scale, and feedbacks between ecological and social systems.

Typically experts focus on one particular level of scale and assume the next level up or down is well taken care of by experts in corresponding domains/disciplines. There is always room for improving inter-disciplinary collaboration.

Neurotribes

Steve Silberman, 2015

No serious discussion on the topic of innovation, learning, and collaboration can afford to ignore the relevance of neurodiversity, and in particular the role of the autistic spectrum.

The  book Neurotribes by Steve Silberman is the most impressive book on autism that I’ve read to date; the first attempt to provide a comprehensive history of autism. Neurotribes explains in depth how the damaging myth of the “autism epidemic” came about.

“Autistics are even more diverse than neurotypicals. Some are chatty, others are easily overwhelmed; others love intense sensation. Really there’s more of a range within the spectrum than there is in ‘normality’.”

One small experiment (at 36:00) goes a long way towards understanding the significance of autistics for progress and innovation. The autistic element is essential for reducing spurious complexity in human societies. Autistics learn and play differently.

Autistics communicate and enjoy themselves by sharing information and knowledge, and not by negotiating social status and reputation.

CIIC Auckland 2015 09 : A draft set of universal values for evaluating interdisciplinary innovation

Buckland Beach Yacht Club

The second instalment of CIIC was great fun.

Alan Miles had done significant homework on the question “what is value?” between the first unconference and the one last Saturday. The discussion went quite deep, and an overview of the results has been documented.

Bucklands Beach Yacht Club as a venue turned out to be a great choice in terms of location, and also in terms of the quality of food available at the restaurant we had booked for lunch.

We have updated the schedule of upcoming events through to September 2016, allowing people to plan and register well in advance.

Many thanks again to everyone who participated in and contributed to the CIIC unconference on 26 September 2015!

I hope we will soon meet again at the upcoming Meetup on 4 December, and continue the work in progress towards collaborative solutions to wicked problems in New Zealand at the next the unconference on 5 December 2015.

Statistics on the state of innovation

The Australian Bureau of Some publishes some interesting numbers on innovation, many of which are unlikely to reflect unique Australian patterns.
statisticsKey observations:

  1. Lack of skills is the biggest barrier to innovation, and at the same time collaborative innovation and joint product development is rather uncommon. The numbers on the level of novelty are quite shocking.
  2. Cutting costs is one driver of innovation, but there are several more important drivers such as time to market, increasing market share, and establishing new markets.
  3. In businesses with more than 200 employees consultants are the largest external source of expertise related to innovation, and intellectual property protection is not a major concern. This could be an indication that organisations are increasingly receptive to the ideas of open science, open data, and open source software.
  4. Purchasing external technology is a major element of investments in innovation, alongside investments in training, R&D, design, and quality assurance.
  5. The benefits of innovation mirror the drivers for innovation, which is to be expected.

The statistics highlight a distinct absence of deep innovation, and the potential opportunities that open up in an environment that nurtures interdisciplinary collaboration across organisational boundaries.