We have been trying to make sense of change drivers since the beginning of time. Sayings like “change is the only constant”, “change is part of us”, etc all are used daily, but what do we know about change? There are a plethora of concepts researched and reasoned about, to explain cyclical change. Here are a few modes to look at:
– A prominent and often controversial theory is the theory of evolution as initially defined by Darwin. In basic terms it is the process of change where traits are different from generation to generation. Certain traits are more dominant than others; the same way in business where a business evolves over time. To stay in business certain traits need to change and others developed further.
– Kondtratieff Waves or Super Cycles is used used as a concept to understand the cycles of growth over time – typically fifty to sixty years in length. There have been five waves of change and we are not sure how many to come:
– The Industrial Revolution, from 1771
– The Age of Steam and Railways, from 1829
– The Age of Steel, Electricity and Heavy Engineering, from 1875
– The Age of Oil, the Automobile and Mass Production, from 1908
– The Age of Information and Telecommunications, from 1971
We are in the fifth megawave according to this cycle. It is strongly based on industrial and technological innovations and do not explain some of the social and human developmental cyclical changes.
– Elliott Wave principle is used by technical analysts trying to understand financial markets.
– Hype Cycles are used to indicate the adoption of various technologies over time. Technologies are mapped on a cycle that separates the hype from the realities of implementation.
Theories that describe cycles, relate to the notion of time in a number of ways. We try to make sense of the unknown by predicting cycles of change (based a number of attributes) normally broken down into equal time buckets. The degree of change is another important dimension that can be used to understand changes systemically.
Now think about the influence on company strategy; markets evolve, products and services (as offerings) evolve, people and social models change…to mention a few. In trying to make sense of future markets, cycle based theories are used to assist with high-level business planning.