Innovation at the Edge of Chaos

Published by Jake Standing on 6 April 2020

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There is a term within Chaos theory – “The Edge of Chaos” – that denotes the transition space between order and disorder. It is hypothesised that within this space lies the locus for evolutionary processes, which creates new patterns of organisation and ideas.

It certainly feels as though we are currently in this space, and we have already seen such innovative ideas in our community. The normal boundaries have been taken away, and changes that would have taken potentially years previously, have been implemented within weeks or even days.

Some of these changes will have been mandatory, but some will have originated from re-imagining how our processes work or taking the best bits from previous businesses and building on that in a remote environment.

We have already seen changes to business and consumer trends following recessions or pandemics. E-commerce grew exponentially following the SARS pandemic in the early 2000s. Various ways of sharing assets to generate income were then explored following the reduction of incomes for many after the financial crisis in 2008, and the low savings rates led high investment in assisting companies deliver technological advances.

Teleconferencing facilities have seen a surge in demand in the current crisis. We have also seen supply chains come together at speed to build hospitals and create distributed networks to offer rapid diagnostic testing. What other innovations could lead to exponential growth at this time?

Our Growth team have highlighted some key points to consider:

  • Dissect your current income streams and how you deliver those currently. Is that process still fit for purpose? How could it be improved?
  • Envisage what you want your business to look like in 18 months’ time. Does it have the same purpose as when you started?
  • Consider your market – where are the gaps? What could be done better, starting from a blank piece of paper?
  • Do you have the support you need? Both in terms of talent, routes to market, and/or financial support?
  • Training – Do you now have time to get up to speed with the latest products and software?

‘Black Swan’ events such COVID-19 change the course of history. Those who adapt to these changes will succeed, whilst those who don’t will become disrupted.

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