19-20/2014 The urge for something new
The urge to experience something new drives the world forward. An entire religion has grown up around the term innovation, and the so-called early adopters – those of us who always have all of the latest updates and the newest apps installed – are its disciples. Biology plays its part in this urge, for we are pleased when we get our daily dose of the happiness hormone dopamine. It flows when we have an unexpectedly positive experience and try out something new. Routine and boredom, in contrast, hamper our bodies’ dopamine production and make us feel demotivated.
So is everything clear? Not in the least. For there is also a scientific insight which states that, as students of a new hype, we are merely following a predictable cycle. Jackie Fenn of the Gartner research institute has translated the phenomenon into nice images for five phases. A technological trigger is rapidly followed by a peak of exaggerated expectations, from which we descend into the valley of disappointment. There we arrive at a more realistic assessment and can thus set out on the path to enlightenment, on which we finally reach safe shores in the form of a plateau of productivity. This description of the overall process made a lot of sense, at least to me.
But those of us who do not want to accept that we are but hamsters in a treadmill can take the fact that the process can be reversed as consolation. Sometimes the familiar vanquishes a supposedly innovative approach, at least according to Alexander Fürstenberg, a Russian radio technology engineer, who concluded that «if a tried-and-tested old winner pushes out a bad new option, then that is progress.»
We hope that the following pages of reading contain a bit of both for you and look forward to meeting you at the Breakbulk Europe 2014 trade fair in Antwerp these days.