Grant McCracken on social innovation from Reason.TV

Motorola brought the Razr cell phone to market – but how it got there was interesting.  Geoffrey Frost knew it could work, and second he protected it from becoming “safe”.  “Geoffrey Frost thought ‘this can work’ when he saw the Razr in a research lab.”  The second thing he thought –  “I have to keep it away from the inclination of the corporation to kill things in committee.”  So “he snuck it through, to market, under cover of darkness” before it acquired every pet feature and add-on no committee ever rejects.  “as social innovation happens (the right to vote for women, property rights, Elvis, casual dress at work, almost any change from significant to minor)the intellectuals of the time always seem to say that the new social innovation is going to ruin the social fabric of society.” The Intellectuals thus far have been wrong in almost all cases.  The British saying “keep calm and carry on” seems to apply.  An interesting twist he adds to this, is that he points out that people are identifying with smaller social groupings (think Mark Penn and MicroTrends).  McCracken points out,  Social-group speciation is radically smaller and more targeted than they have been. Social structures may be more stable if the social structure accepts social innovations; the open question is whether there is a kernel which cannot be ‘undone’ without causing failure.  One thing is sure, the kernel (if exists) is much smaller than most intellectuals think it is, and “our reflex is that it (social innovation) will cause it (society) to come undone, and it (history) shows us that it (society) doesn’t.”  Grant McCracken Interview


About paulscho36

I like to simplify software. I love people who actually deliver software.
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