Tuesday, June 10, 2014

intentional disruption

The Youth Economy. Disruptive and innovative, forces - or allows -
participants to change and adapt. Win or lose by luck as much as by art
or talent. The Mature Economy. Where accumulated knowledge and refined
craft ensure success. Resists disruption, seeks to limit randomness.
This distinction is observed in the choices some companies are making to
hire young people because they are more disruptive and offer more
potential for growth, while other businesses do well with older more
stable workers.

This distinction can be compared to the ecological idea of r/K
selection. R species (r for rate of increase) depend on the number of
offspring for survival of the species. They typically confront variable,
even random conditions, or need to be ready for unpredictable supplies
of food. K (from the German for Constant) invest in the health of fewer
offspring, and typically confront highly regular habitats and food

By analogy to r/K selection, we expect a high failure rate for
individuals and enterprises engaged in the Youth economy. We may
experience this as personal failure and with real distress, but failure,
if not death, is an intrinsic and necessary aspect of the r-selection
and what could be called the r-economy, and happens to people mostly for
extrinsic reasons. Although entry into the r-economy can be very
competitive, it can also be arbitrary, available to people who are in
the right place at the right time with the right idea (a mix of
extrinsic and intrinsic factors), providing rewards not to those who
conform to the norms and expectations of those who preceded them, but to
those who violate the norms AND have something special to offer. Since
very few of the ideas generated in this way are actually great, the
r-economy is a very dangerous environment, and its contestants depend as
much on a lucky break or unpredictable success as on talent and
adaptation. Further, even though being smart is one requirement, having
the family support, getting the education and connecting with the
opportunity can be largely a matter of luck. This has the surprising
result that competition is expected to be lower. In r-species it
generally is, though not less demanding. In people, it may be that the
randomness of the environment incites competitive behavior as a
compensation for uncertainty. The ecological term for this behavior is
opportunistic, although most young people in the r-economy would not be
described as having opportunistic personalities, as we understand this

Likewise, we predict a lower failure rate in the mature economy, however
entry into the K-economy is much more difficult and competitive.