Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Mimetic isomorphism

What a fantastic term. If you read this blog you are going to see it used a lot more during 2008.

This is time of year, for me at least, when I can make a start to read that huge pile of articles/reports/snippets that I have accumulated during the year - feel impelled to keep - but have not had the time to read.

I have made a start and read: “Lessons of the Last Bubble”. This is published (free) on the Strategy+Business site and is by Tim Laseter, David Kirsch, and Brent Goldfarb. It should be mandatory reading for everybody who has a sure fire winning business idea.

The article debunks many of the myths that have grown-up about the bubble. Perhaps the worst excess of that period was the dose of economic idiocy that gripped great sways of the technology/finance industry. I would say the herd mentality – the authors call it mimetic isomorphism. Why does the social networking application keep coming into my mind?

The other topic addressed in the article is the way that when a theory (scientific or business) becomes accepted as the norm, we spend more time looking for evidence to justify its position rather than trying to reject or refine its substance. The article quotes Karl Popper, the leading scientific philosopher of the 20th century who argued for challenging conventional wisdom: “By criticizing our theories, we can let our theories die in our stead.” Popper also noted that “no matter how many instances of white swans we may have observed, this does not justify the conclusion that all swans are white.” Why do the words environmentalism and globalisation keep coming into my mind?

What the hell has this got to do with the 50-plus? Lots. Our obsession with distilling the complex issue of 50-plus marketing into a set of simple ‘guidelines’ is one example. I will point out a few more ways during 2008. Dick Stroud

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