Tech Community Worthless to Economic Recovery

One of the most notable things about the dot com bubble burst is that the innovations and technologies established in the late 90s and early 2000s spurned the comeback of the economy and the establishment of a new economy of business and internet value. We called it, for better or for worse, Web 2.0 and it was marked by stark innovations in human interaction driven largely by the glut of bandwidth provided by undersea cables laid in the 90s. The technology that, arguably, caused the downturn that resulted in so many dot-com bombs, became the impetus for a new generation of business and spending.

Unfortunately, this new generation of internet technology, technologists and startups is so far not demonstrating any ability to lay the groundwork for the economic recovery and innovation. Instead, we continue to focus on “teh Twitter”, and marketing gimmicks played out by celebrities like Ashtun Kutcher and Oprah. We talk about the new look and feel of Friendfeed, seen Friendfeed focusing on making what we know better, but ignoring the very impetus for economic recovery proven time again – innovation. Something new. Something radical. Something that challenges the basis of the cultural and societal problems in existence that generate the economic problems affecting everyone, not just a subset of the population existing in a subset of the worlds geography.

In the 1930s, the United States (and by proxy, the world) faced the worst economic crisis in modern history (one could make the argument that the Dark Ages were actually centuries old and worse than anything generated by modern economic recessions). It wasn’t until society was forced to innovate, via programs instituted by President Franklin Roosevelt, that the economy began to recover.

Silicon Valley, as bubble-like as it is, has been the center of innovation in the technology world, for several economic cycles now. In every case in the past 20 years, the impetus for technology growth and recovery, can be categorized by new ideas, new companies doing new things. They don’t rehash the same cycles. They haven’t focused on the same ideas. They start over building from the plateau left from the cycle before – utilizing prior technologies and developing completely new things.

This is innovation and this is not what is happening in this cycle. Instead, the technology world talks about celebrity races to 1 Million Twitter followers. They talk about the mainstream adoption of these technologies. We live in years of yore, still conversing about how Obama won the White House using social media – as if that fact will somehow change our world.

We still talk about advertising on blogs, as if advertising sales are somehow going to spur economic recovery, despite a regression in advertising spending across the board. We still build companies based on an idea that free is a valuable asset.

BREAKING NEWS: The economy spins out of control while people keep spinning stupid ideas worthy of 2001.

It’s time to get smart about business. It’s time to start applying the entrepreneurial spirit that we claim as important to our culture. It’s time for the technology community to actually be important to the economy. It’s time to stop expecting that the President will call upon us as a community of change and innovation, when all we can do is talk about publicity stunts by celebrities.

Grow up, people. Get real about making a difference. Maybe we can actually get this country and this world moving again if we stop being stupid. Maybe. We are not necessarily the chosen ones. That right must be earned.

Organizaciones que Aprenden

En una era de constante innovación es importante poder identificar las características que ayudan al éxito y crecimiento de una empresa.

¿Perteneces a una organización que aprende? ¿Alguien está encargado de mantenerse al día con las innovaciones? ¿Cuando un empleado tiene un idea innovadora, existen los mecanismos para que la empresa evalue y adapte dicha idea?

David Garmin y Amy Edmonson, investigadores sobre las Organizaciones que Aprenden, definen estas como “empresas preparadas para crear, adquirir, interpretar, transferir y retener conocimientos” y capaces de “modificar su comportamiento para responder a esos nuevos conocimientos.”

Entonces, ¿cómo enfrenta tu empresa a la innovación? Este gráfico nos muestra cuatro tipos de empresas, de acuerdo a como responden a las nuevas ideas:

Tipos de Organizaciones que Aprenden

Los 4 Tipos de Organizaciones que Aprenden

Las organizaciones que Aprenden Rápido tienden a ser innovadoras, se mantienen al día con las nuevas ideas y tecnologías que puedan afectar sus operaciones y han implementado una cultura empresarial que premia la innovación, experimentación e implementación de nuevas ideas a través de la empresa.

Las organizaciones de Aprendizaje Cíclico tratan de mantenerse al día con la innovación cada cierto tiempo. Experimentan con nuevas ideas cuando estas ya han sido probadas por otros. Este no es un comportamiento necesariamente dañino para la empresa, ya que a veces una empresa puede perder la concentración al sobre-innovar o intentar probar cada nueva idea sin llegar a implementarlas dentro de la organización.

Las organizaciones de Aprendizaje Tardío incorporan nuevas ideas sólo cuando es estrictamente necesario para la supervivencia de la empresa. Aún cuando este comportamiento puede funcionar para empresas en nichos con altísimas barreras de entrada, la competencia eventualmente las alcanza y rebasa ya que no están preparadas para evolucionar.

Las organizaciones Aplazadas simplemente no ven la innovación hasta que es demasiado tarde. Sin mecanismos para evaluar nuevas ideas, o convencidas de su superioridad, un día despiertan para encontrar que son obsoletas o que un competidor se adueñó de su mercado.

Ray Stata, fundador de Analog Devices, dijo que:

“El paso al que las organizaciones y los individuos aprenden llegará a convertirse en la única ventaja competitiva.”

Para lograr el éxito, los individuos y las organizaciones deben aprender más rápidamente que su competencia. Si la innovación en tu área profesional avanza más rápido que tu capacidad de aprendizaje, más temprano que tarde te quedarás atrás.

¿Están tu y tu compañía preparadas para aprender? ¿Hay alguien en tu compañía encargado de informarte de nuevos avances que puedan afectarte? ¿Sabrás qué pasó?

Deja tus comentarios… me encantaría desarrollar este tema más a fondo. ¿Tienes alguna historia que compartir sobre la innovación y tu compañía?

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Age of Exploration 500 Years Later

In 1519, an explorer by the name of Ferdinand Magellan began a journey that would be the first of it’s kind. He would lead an expedition that would circle the globe for the first time. It would cost him his Portuguese citizenship, 219 crew members, 4 ships and even his own life. In the process, his expedition would sail through the southern tip of South America, Guam, the Philippines and throughout the Far East. It would be the first trip of its kind.

In 1804, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark embarked on horseback from the small port town of St. Louis and headed west to explore the great unknown chunk of land gained from Napoleonic France in the controversial “Louisiana Purchase”. The Louisiana Purchase forgave millions of dollars in French debt as well as provided the critical port city of New Orleans to the United States. However, the territory came with millions of acres of unexplored land.

Notably, after two years of exploration along the Missouri River basin and eventually finding the Pacific Ocean, they returned bringing information and intelligence about the Natives they met and territory they explored. Further exploration would happen in subsequent years cementing the western territories as part of U.S. culture and history.

One hundred-fifty years later, in 1961, President John F. Kennedy announced to Congress that he wanted the U.S. to put a man on the moon before the end of the decade, an ambitious goal that was itself controversial. As history tells us, Neil Armstrong became the first man to lay foot on the moon on July 16, 1969 stating that, “This is one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”.

Amazingly, we continue to explore in our innovation. Obviously, I’m one of these geeks that gets into all the new tools and gadgets that some new entrepreneur comes up with but not everybody is. The other night, I spoke at Social Media Club DC and I compared today’s internet with the internet of 10 years ago. Ten years ago, realtime online communication carried a connotation of creepy stalker-like chats on AOL. Today, we have real time communication instantly in so many forms and on so many platforms that the lines blur.

And we don’t really think twice about it.

When I think about the explorers who have gone before us, I see that they explored and discovered and brought something back for the rest of us. Magellan told us about peoples and nations and geography that we did not know existed before. Lewis & Clark showed us just how big the United States really is. Armstrong brought space, the final frontier, to us. Everyone of these explorers added something back to society through their discoveries.

Then they all came back (Well, except Magellan who died en route to coming back). Consolidation took place.

Today we are in another innovative age. I’m proud of my friend (disclaimer: he’s also done contract work for b5media) Keith Casey. When I met him several years ago, he was a die hard developer. He mocked me for using Twitter and now uses it religiously. Today, he is the CTO for WhyGoSolo an upstart company that suddenly has the eyes of the world on them. I feel like I watched somebody grow up in front of me (Keith, no offense, man. You were grown up already)

At this point, I’m thinking some consolidation takes place. Sure there’s the economic consolidation (recession) that people like to talk to. But I think I see consolidation being more of a maturation of what we have. “Now the Moon has been walked on, let’s build a Shuttle and put satellites up there.”

At least that’s me.