My old Riot Kayaks Grind, below the Flying B Ranch on the Middle Fork Salmon River
I came across this article today on Medium — a series on what they’re calling the Industrialist’s Dilemma. The intent is to attempt to understanding how digital technology is transforming markets and systems of production for ‘Old School’ goods — like Tesla is doing for cars. This quote from the article sums it up well, talking about Uber, AirBnB, and such:
These startups benefit from zero legacy organizational baggage, little government overhead, some of the best software talent in the world, relatively cheap startup capital, and no brand reputation to jeopardize when attempting new unproven feats (like letting people rent out their bedrooms to strangers).
The Industrialist’s Dilemma, as posed, is an excellent example of what is known as Hawkins’ Law — coined by David Hawkins, a Pharm D. doing research on anti-coagulants.
Progress does not involve replacing one theory that is wrong with one that is right, rather it involves replacing one theory that is wrong with one that is more subtly wrong.
The meta-premise in the Industrialists Dilemma is as the tools have changed, the opportunity for recreating the various businesses formerly tied to large, in-place industry has also changed.
My argument, or rather attempt to replace this theory that is wrong, with one that is more subtly wrong, is that the social/relational structure and its information flow is the thing that creates real change. Digital tools change the way that information can move around, and thus have the potential to rearrange the social structure of existing service provider industries as those industries adapt to provide a needed good or service. Because changing the social structure is fundamentally disruptive to the status quo (ask any overbearing manager who is finally forced to be nice and cede authority to his/her employees) the way of doing business also comes along with a disruptive effect.
I wish I could attend the series. I’m sure, regardless of the paradigm, it will be fascinating. The author of the post, Aaron Levie, has promised to put lectures up on Medium.