The Gap

In the AI of the ’80s, the goal was to solve the problem by various means, but mostly by making the problem small enough to solve. It turned out that most problems were too big. Consider that the point of HTML was to feed knowledge to AI machines without spending the money to encode the world’s knowledge on your dime. All this human reading, commerce and ad service was besides the point. Hell, a server log was an accident.

So we start out looking at the world. Actually, the world is large, so we start by focusing and tightening up our scope until we get to a comprehensible world.

00 A World

Yes, we’ll start where Euclid started. Well, he may have started with a point, instead of a line, but lines and points define each other. To get to a single point, we draw another line, not shown this time.

01 00 A Point In A World

We might think of a point, as being the result of an argument. And, while we are arguing we’ll stick with the real world, no concepts allowed. So the argument is all about taxonomy. “You’re an idiot.” “No, I’m not.” But then, idiot would necessitate that such a thing really existed, and no, not the concept of an idiot. Better to name it a rock, so we can keep our argument simple and non-conceptual.

01 01 A Point In A World

But,  somehow, we’ve admitted the concept of an idiot. So now are stuck with maintaining a taxonomy and an ontology. We end up with two worlds: the world of ideas, and the world of realizations. Realizations happen long after we get everyone on the same page as to the idea. There is some spatio-temporal notions of distance and time involved in getting everyone of the same page. And, that is pre-idea. Post-idea, post-implementation, that distance and time is tied up in the technology adoption lifecycle, even if we are talking product as opposed to the technology. Getting back to the taxonomy and ontology involved, they are different and separate worlds.

01 02 A Point In A World

Between those two worlds is a gap. We should be glad the gap is there since it’s where economic value comes from. Products reduce the impedance a constraint presents us with. Products might eliminate that impedance in its entirety. But, Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints tells us that there is always another constraints. We should be happy about that as well, because we won’t run out of work–ever. So why are we unemployed? Well, it’s not globalism, robots, computers, or laziness.

01 03 A Point In A World

But, back to the gap. Those lines are not straight. We might use matrix algebra to straighten them out, but really, they curve. We don’t even try to cross a gap until someone can see or imagine the other side.

01 04 A Point In A World

In the gap, we find value. We make the unknown a little more known. We generate few more bits in the crossing.

01 05 A Point In A World

When we can cross a gap without tossing aside yesterday’s world, when we innovate continuously, we capture cash. When the freight hauling train gets stuff to a port, billing captures some cash, eventually. But, wealth was created when the railroads were built, when railroads were a discontinuous innovation. Railroads might be a bad example, because they were vertically integrated and tended to capture all the cash involved. Today, we are no longer vertically integrated, so the cash is captured by each members of a value chain. Wealth doesn’t get captured in a single set of books. No entity gets all the cash.

One of the core jobs when getting an innovation, a discontinuous innovation, adopted is building that value chain and creating that wealth that feeds the coming cash capture. Too much of what we do today is about cashing out on yesterday’s wealth.

Back to those taxonomies and ontologies, they involve decisions. Those decisions define the terrain. The terrain isn’t even known. On that map of travel times out of New York, you got out west where the map went blank. There was terrain there, but nobody had surveyed it, mapped it, defined the features and the data that we encode in our maps. I’ve drawn the taxonomy and ontology used here as in the leaf nodes attaching to the terrain elevation lines. I’m left wondering if the taxons and ontons, the decisions, are a better place to run the terrain. Do we reach a place, or do we go up and down hills? That question seems to be the distinction between discontinuous and continuous innovation. Did we stop somewhere, or did we keep moving? Did we engage in trench warfare, or the war of fluid tank battles with no rear or forward areas? The point here is that you draw your on taxonomies and ontologies and put the terrain features where you want them. Just use a consistent set of rules for doing so.

01 07 A Point In A World

Once you have your map, you can put your value chain on the terrain as well. Here I’m using circles as a Fourier analysis of the value chain. I’ve followed the Styrofoam cup as microphone notion of saying the circles fit the largest area between the constraining elevations of both the taxonomy and the ontology. We end up with the largest possible circles, the highest frequencies you can get. Now, we might not sense that tightly. We might sense smaller. But, sensing larger is a fail in the game theory sense. We’ve gone too far. We won’t notice, except that our gut instinct will tell us something is wrong.

01 08 A Point In A World

In the figure, the purple points represent the points of contact between our sensors and our terrain. The small circle is our peak. Well, hopefully, it is our peak, because it represents the top of the value chain, where you want to be. The circles are eccentric. That means that depending on their direction of approach a competitor might surprise you.

Enjoy. Comments?


2 Responses to “The Gap”

  1. More on the Gap | Product Strategist Says:

    […] posting “The Gap,” I kept going. I put the technology adoption lifecycle across the terrain. An idea gains […]

  2. Geometry | Product Strategist Says:

    […] geometry usually with a black swan that makes their distribution contract. A category begins with a gap. Consider the space looking outward to the foci to be the […]

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