2 thoughts on “Lifecycle of a silver bullet

  1. Richard Oliver

    This is a fascinating topic, Johnnie.

    It reminds me of a couple of stories. The first is about Paul Desmond the soprano sax player, who was part of the Dave Brubeck Quartet. Apparently someone once pointed out that he sometimes played notes an octave higher than a soprano saxophone should be able to produce. When he tried to work out how he did it he found he could never do it again.

    Ellen Langer, the cognitive psychologist, tells a similar story of someone in her office who could type very fast and also read and retain what he was typing
    as he did it. When she asked him to teach her how to do it he found that consciously analysing what he did meant that for a while he lost those skills.

  2. Jack Martin Leith


    Reminds me of Sally Bean’s post on KnowledgeBoard: The Lifecycle of a ‘Big Idea’

    (sorry, the URL I have doesn’t work)

    I’m sure Sally won’t mind me sharing it:

    1. Innovative practices spotted in “fast companies”

    2. Ideas written up in Fast Company magazine

    3. Academics and consultants conceptualise ideas and give them a new name

    4. Ideas published in Harvard Business Review

    5. Consultants leap on to conference circuit and meet with top management of Big Slow Companies

    6. Books written (or ghost-written) on Big Idea.

    7. Other consultants dust down and reshape their Old Ideas to fit this new Big Idea, thereby obscuring the kernel of value within the original concept.

    8. Yet more consultants use the interest in this New Big Idea as a vehicle to promote their Old Big Ideas.

    9. Analyst groups forecast that 50% of Fortune 500 companies will adopt Big Idea within next three years with probability 0.8.

    10. Individuals working in Big Slow companies begin to take an interest. A rookie guru emerges within the company, reads all the books, attends the conferences and claims custody of the Big Idea. Debates may ensue on what is, and is not the Big Idea. (e.g. That’s not CRM, that’s Customer Service).

    11. Cynics claim that Big Idea contains nothing new and it’s just good business practice, anyway.

    12. Software companies reposition their software to execute the Big Idea, or more often, a small part of it.

    13. Executing the idea degenerates into implementation of an IT system – a guaranteed recipe for failure, since no such system will succeed without the corresponding change to process & culture.

    14. Big Idea is lampooned in a Dilbert cartoon.

    15. A few smart companies benefit from the Big Idea. Whatever it was that the Big Idea was supposed to improve, gets worse in many other companies. Cynicism increases and off we go around the loop again with increased probability of failure each time. (Well we tried xxxxxx and that didn’t work!)


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