Sunday, August 31, 2014

Change bandwidth

Author Jason Bloomberg wrote: "It's human nature when faced with a chaotic environment ... to filter out most of the noise to focus on a single trend. The resulting illusion of stability gives us a context we can understand. But it's still an illusion."

Others have said that to permit innovative change, particularly destructive innovation, the filters must come off to permit rapid and "out of the box (filter) responses"... you can't work change (or see enough context) through a straw, as it were.

It's a matter of physics: if you put a sharp change through a somewhat narrow filter, then what you get out is somewhat smeared bell-shaped response with gradually changing shoulders, thus damping the effect of the change. And, you get a delay as the input energy has to move through the filtering effect.

Consequently, the output is a poor facsimile of the input, and it's late!

The problem we see in the organizational change business is that if there is a sudden big shift in the business environment (or public attitudes that could affect the public or non-profit sectors), the business sees the big shift after it's exited the filter. If the filter is narrow, the delay will be significant (inverse to the bandwidth) and, if the filter is really narrow, the information at the filter output will be distorted. The effect, as Jason describes, is to continue the status quo (an illusion due to filter delay) ...  [and] miss the outset of a big change.

Consequently, the business may be too late, and  may even bring a basketball to the football game: (distortion effects). See "Microsoft misses the mobile revolution" for an example. 

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