Are you equipped to look into the corporate infrared?
“The Milky Way is a spiral galaxy containing over 100 billion stars. It is over 100,000 light years (or 600,000,000,000,000,000 miles) in diameter and has a disk containing spiral arms and a dense central sphere or bulge. The center of our galaxy is not visible at optical wavelengths [‘white light’ to you and me IP Ed.] because it is hidden behind numerous clouds of gas and dust.
However, we can view the center of our galaxy in the infrared, since infrared rays can penetrate gas and dust. The image … is a combination of infrared data from the 2MASS and MSX projects. The Galactic plane runs horizontally along the image, and the Galactic center is the bright (yellow) object near the middle. In the blue regions (2MASS) many stars invisible to optical telescopes can be seen in the infrared. The red areas (MSX) show the distribution of dust near the center of our galaxy.”
(We are grateful to http://www.ipac.caltech.edu for these words and this image)
The world of business can learn much from the world of cosmological physics.
The consequences of using infrared imaging of space as a metaphor are, well, galactic. The ability of such imagery to reveal a totally different vista to that seen, and not seen, in white light are enormous.
Much of the information you need to defend your business from competitive attack or to mount an attack on a new market yourself is found in very different informational types and sources. As a result you should ask yourself if your organisation has the range of tools it needs to search for the infrared information and messages that you need to run your business effectively?
Many organisations are in search of a competitive advantage.
Despite this many are content to point the same ‘white light instruments’ as everyone else has at a relatively focused area of their corporate universe.
There are a number of problems with this.
- Firstly, doing what everyone else does rarely leads to competitive advantage.
- Secondly, unless you do far more to extend the range and breadth of white light vision you risk not only failing to get a competitive advantage but being a casualty of someone doing so. Organisations of all kinds need to look further and wider in the white light spectrum. There is more out there to see even with white light instrumentation if the luminosity is turned up and more systematic scanning takes place.
- Thirdly, you are blind to anything not detectable by those white light instruments. The infrared revelations about the centre of our galaxy of the 2MASS and MSX projects are testimony to what can be seen at different points on the electromagnetic spectrum. The same is true of the ‘corporate infomagnetic spectrum’.
Initiatives to enhance your understanding of the white light images of the corporate universe you occupy are critical. You should invest in brighter and more wide-ranging white light scanning resources. At the same time, however, you need to know that although it will help in the short-term this imaging of your corporate universe will not bring long-term competitive advantage.
The truth is, as well as working to improve your ability to get ahead of the game in the white light corporate world you need to think about gathering information from other light forms. There are many other points on the spectrum out there waiting for you to use if you set your business antenna to scan for and receive them. The more types of information you are able to see, the more information you will receive and the more able your organisation will be to plan a better business response in rapidly changing markets. You may become the ones causing the rapid changes.
Looking at our universe in white light reveals one set of images, looking at it in the infrared, the ultra violet, the x-ray and extreme UV each reveal so much more. What we see in these areas of the light spectrum radically changes our view of the medium to long-term strategy we adopt.
Ice cutter syndrome
Before 1830, few people used ice to chill foods as there were few if any ice-storehouses and ice boxes. As these both became more widely available, people began to use axes and saws to cut or ‘harvest’ ice for their storehouses. The practice was dangerous and difficult. It was certainly not a process that could be duplicated on a commercial-scale
Despite the difficulties Frederic Tudor believed that he could exploit this new product by cutting ice in New England and transporting it to the Caribbean islands and the southern states. Eventually Tudor made a profit as he built ice houses in Charleston, Virginia and in the Cuban port town of Havana. These ice houses and better insulation in ships etc helped cut ice wastage from 66% to 8% and such efficiency gains led Tudor to expand his ice market to other towns. Indeed, the market expanded even more as harvesting ice became faster and cheaper. One of Tudor’s suppliers, Nathaniel Wyeth, invented a horse-drawn ice cutter in 1825. This invention as well as Tudor’s success inspired others to get involved in the ice trade and the ice industry grew.
By the early 1830s ice became a mass-market commodity.
The price of ice dropped from six cents per pound to a half of a cent per pound. In New York City, the market increased from 12,000 tons in 1843 to 100,000 tons in 1856. Boston’s increased from 6,000 tons to 85,000 tons at same time. Ice harvesting generated a “cooling culture”. More and more people used ice and ice boxes to store a range of products: ,including fish, meat, and even fruits and vegetables.
This was big business employing thousands of people. They used all their intellect and ingenuity to cut it better, wrap it and ship further and loose less. And they became very good at it. They focused all their white light thinking, information and instruments to improve all the processes involved.
However, all that was about to change everything.
When the German engineer Carl von Linde, building on the work of John Gorrie, James Harrison, Ferdinand Carrie led the way in the development of the refrigerator, half way round the world and in a totally different economic sector, in the ice cutter’s infrared the industry all but collapsed and thousands of people lost their jobs. It might seem hash now to judge these cutters for not scanning the their universe in the infrared, and so it might be. Given the global reach of contemporary data and information capturing instruments it is only a lack of intent on the part of contemporary managers and this should be judged harshly.
If you are not to suffer the ice syndrome you must find a way to search across the full range of ‘infomagnetic spectrum’, infrared, ultra violet and more.
Another example of enhanced white light and corporate infrared imaging is evident in the development of the personal computer and associated devises. At Apple, Steve Jobs and his colleagues turned up the luminosity, range and scanning resources they pointed at the personal computer industry as they moved from the Apple One to the Apple Two and the Macintosh making PC’s for people not geeks and popularising graphical user interfaces on the Mac.
Multiple electromagnetic lenses to create new products and new industries.
The tumultuous revolutions created by Jobs through Apple show how taking infrared, ultra violet and other electromagnetic images of our physical, social and corporate worlds can not only produce competitive advantage and the worlds most valuable company it can transform products, industries and lives: Pixar revolutionised the movie industry; Apple Stores reinvented the role of shops in branding; iPod changed the way we store and listen to music; iTunes revolutionised the music industry; iPhone transformed music, photography, email and web devises; the App Store generated a content creation industry and the iPad launched tablet computing giving a platform for newspapers, books, magazines and watching video.
It is perfectly fine for scientists and managers to look in conventional white light. If you are sure that what you are looking for gives off or reflects white light and your antenna are correctly located, directed and calibrated then you should do that too. The problem is not everything gives off and reflects white light ‘white light images. Moreover, not all the information your business needs is available in white light range.
Are you equipped to look at different points on the corporate ‘infomagnetic spectrum’?
This article is In-development and the IP Ed would love to hear from you.