This is a semi-serious blog.
It is meant to be a place where we can hypothesize, make tall claims and do plenty of crystal gazing. And argue. Because arguing passionately is good.
Have you heard of the Butterfly Effect? It's a term used in chaos theory to describe how small changes to a seemingly unrelated thing or condition can affect large, complex systems. The name of the effect, coined by a gentleman named Edward Lorenz, is derived from the theoretical example of a hurricane's formation being contingent on whether or not a distant butterfly had flapped its wings several weeks before.
So what's the relevance here? Plenty. In this blog, I want to identify small and apparently inconsequential things we might hear about almost in passing which may have huge implications over a period of time, with an emphasis on the business world.
In History, you hear so many such tales. Had King So-and-So turned back from such-and-such a battle, something would not have happened. In an enchanting book, Nathaniel's Nutmeg by Giles Milton, I read that British traded the island of Manhattan in their American colony for a small island called Run in Indonesia with the Dutch, at the height of the Spice trade. New Amsterdam was renamed New York! William Dalrymple in his book "The Return of the King" said that the 1842 defeat of the British by the Afghans provided the psychological trigger of confidence for the 1857 mutiny we have read about. Oh, it's fun to imagine what might have been and what the consequences of an event might be elsewhere!
"Of what use is the telephone?" said a wise sceptic many years ago. "What is the use of experimenting with flight?" asked another voice of reason. "Why would anyone ever need a computer?" scoffed another wise man who everyone respected.
Had such ‘wisdom' proved accurate and had the people of that time accepted the force of the prevailing logic, imagine what kind of world we would be living in.
You get the picture.
In the world of business, we hate uncertainty. Control is a word ingrained in every business manager's lexicon. We seek to control price, behaviour, opinion and most other aspects related to our business. To a great extent, it's a futile battle and a lot of ‘success' is probably nothing more than guesswork based on intuition and experience.
And now the emergence of social media has added a new dimension to this eco-system causing suave managers to tear their hair! It appears to be the active promotion of chaos, influencing opinions faster than the ability of companies to react. Don't like your mobile phone company? You can make a huge fuss and get heard and alter the thinking of people. The average citizen now has power disproportionate to his personal economic influence. Who knew that FB or twitter would lead to this?
Do you have other examples? Write to me and tell me what you think the entire world seems to be blind to. Is it your local vendor of samosas who has found a new business model? Do you find some enterprising young man coming up with a loyalty program for roadside vendors? Is there a new technology meant for one thing that you believe has immense applicability elsewhere?
So find those butterflies and let's talk about what their wing flapping might mean to us! Write to me at Vasudev.Murthys@wipro.com