A company begins as a start-up. It creates tremendous buzz and goes through a period where anything goes. There is no concern for paying bills as the company explores new rules. Below a level of fifty employees, there seems to be a lot of random behavior. Between fifty and one hundred employees, if the company has survived, this is when the sigmoidal behavior begins. At that stage the company needs bureaucracy, human resources, compliance, and so on. The company more and more becomes the bureaucracy. The innovative phase gets phased out, unlike a city. A city tolerates all sorts of crazy people walking around. No corporation will tolerate that. Companies become very intolerant to new ideas, rhetoric to the contrary. When a company starts cutting down the bloat, it no longer can be cool. The last time I was at Google I already could feel the tentacles of the bureaucracy encroaching—and Google’s awareness of the problem. There are signs of mortality creeping in. It may well be that Apple recognizes this problem and is fighting it like crazy by being open to new ideas. The question is: Is that possible?
Yancey first introduced me to Geoffrey West and his way of thinking (cities never die, corporations mimic the life/death of humans.)
For a bit more on the topic you can watch Geoffrey West’s TED Talk on the topic.
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Web anthropologist, futurist, author. My focus is the future, and the tectonic forces pushing business, media, and society into an unclear and accelerating future. more.
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GigaOM Research analyst and curator.
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