Institutional habit

Sometimes issues with BIG institutions isn't a bad moral instinct as much as it is institutional habit.

This means that some things are difficult to change not because individuals are against the change, but because the methodology of an institution is configured in such a way as to make change very difficult.

In these case the best course of action is not to focus on the moral factors in the change, but rather on the institutional habit that is keeping it from changing.

An example of this would be the current military industrial complex. Regardless how cruel, inhumane or vital to our security it is the main reason it does not change is because 'the complex' is too big to close. In order to change the military industrial complex we must image other uses for the complex (the tightly knit industrial and consulting businesses) .

It's a bit tough I guess, but I'm thinking that institutional habit does not change as much as transitions.

Something like the war on drugs becomes the war on illegal handguns.


Innovation creates change then social tension

Regardless how innovation is created it will create change. In the characteristics section I try to go more into the specifics of this dynamic.

This dynamic leads to social tension because there will always be a portion of the society that will hate the change. The roots of this hate can be uncertainty or something similar.

The social tension can manifest itself in anything from a conservation movement, to political conservatism, to anarchistic resistance.

The point being that social upheaval caused by innovation are unavoidable.

But the tension can be minimized through an understanding of the innovation process.


The elephant crusade

Listening to the current crop of republicans, it's obvious what the play is. They are trying to maintain socio-economic segregation by economic means. Their current policies can be traced back to the mid-70's when there was a strong reaction to the implementation of anti-racist legislation.

By squeezing money away from the government the tax cutting policies kept the lower economic segments of the society from progressing. The slight of hand the Republicans are trying to do is to pretend that is not their intention when in fact it has been one of the main policy drivers.

I really think the shift of wealth upwardly is a by product. There have always been greedy types in government, but I don't think this is the motivation. The parrallel of these policies and the implementation of civil rights legislation is too obvious to be anything else.

But I'm not writing to protest the policies, rather I wondering from an innovation point of view how effective is this methodology.

The first assumption I'll make is that there has always been socio-economic segregation in the USA. Granted not as much as in other places, but enough to structure our society. Racism in the USA is as much about economic prosperity as it is about a genetic bias. The waves of immigrants only gained acceptance when they gained financial parity.

This is a major assumption, I know, but the topic is too large to get into here. What I'm aiming at is to discuss the idea whether it is possible to control the social make-up through economic means.

I don't think it's possible. And that is probably the biggest shame of it. Republican policies will not stop multi-culturism (in any of it forms : race, sexual orientation, gender) because the factors driving greater integration and acceptance are not economic. All the Republican policies are doing is destabilizing our central poitical core (Big Government as they call it).

So what is driving multi-culturism? The very same factor that drives innovation - greater diversity. The United States has been successful because it has been able to bring together concepts, ideas, knowledge from a greater array of cultures than was ever possible before.

This engine of innovation also spurs multi-culturism. It is impossible to generate innovation through the use of diversity without also adapting parts of disperate cultures into the mainstream - it used to be called the melting pot.


The lifecycle explanation

Innovation ecology (IE) is the process by which thoughts become innovation. In the definitions I call this an invention lifecycle.

It goes from thoughts, to ideas, to inventions to innovation. Thoughts are the reflections of what we see around us. With innovation being those inventions which are useful.

How inventions become useful to a culture has to do with the needs of the culture at the time.

It is the acceptance of specific inventions that changes the type of innovation needed going foward.

This process is the 'lifecycle' of an invention - how it comes to be and how it evolves into the next phase.

There is a connection between the IE and socio-evoluton, the degree of which is debateable, but not the connection.



The business model of developing an environment specifically tailored for capital profit from innovation is akin to introducing a foreign (invasive) element in order to take care of a specific need, without taking into account it's impact on the rest of the environment.

I was watching a nature show about raccoons and really what is the difference between racoons in Japan and Walmarts in the USA?

The idea of mono-industry is just as damaging as mono-culture for the same reasons.


Environment Specific Configurations

One thing that I have noticed recently is that most of the current crop of change is of the one size fits all variety.

Granted that the level of change is so ramped up at the moment that this is the reality faced by many, but still something should be said about environment specific configurations.

This is on my mind this morning because the place were I work at has turned to the Web 2.0 marketing mantra almost exclusively tossing aside older methods of getting the word out.

I'm not responsible for marketing, and I do not totally disagree with the move except to say that nobody, as far as I am concerned, has proved that Web 2.0 marketing works.

The only thing that can be said for cetrtain is that the people marketing Web 2.0 (aka social media) have been successful.

The reason I mention this marketing move is that it is wholesale. We are now marketing in the same trough as almost ever other entitiy in the industry.

It is also requires our company to fill specific skill sets that we don't necessarily have.

I think a better configuration could have been achieved if our particular strengths, and immediate needs were taken more into account.



Innovation's impact is not linear, meaning that an invention will impact more than what it was created for. Rather than a series of singular events, innovation is an ecology unto itself. The complexity of which has made our relationship to it akin to our relationship with the weather.

The factors that go into the formation of weather patterns are so complex it is difficult to predict how an action will  impact the greater whole. In popular culture, this has become known as the butterfly effect – where the flapping of butterfly wings in the Amazon can help cause a storm in New York .
Yet, we depend on our ability to predict the weather to keep us alive. We have many systems in place to forecast weather, but our direct control over it is limited. The best that we can do is prepare for it.

The same can be said for innovation. We depend on it every day, but have limited control over how it is implemented and its eventual impact. Yet, we are able to prepare for how to best use it. In order to do this the first thing is to accept that it is not linear, that any innovation always impacts more than its original intention.

An example of this could be something as one-dimensional as the can opener. There are variations, but basically a can opener does one thing - it opens a can. A can opener does not alter governments. It does not cure hunger. It does one thing, but this one thing has made the distribution of food easier. And anything making the distribution of food easier does impact global hunger and the make up of governments.

Once we accept the interplay in innovation then we can assume that, like the weather, it is an interdependent (ecological) system. The only difference being that instead of a butterfly's wing flap, it might be a small modification to an smart phone app that changes everything  - even if it was only made to predict the weather.