Craig Wing

Craig has started three companies and worked and consulted to dozens more including the South African Department of Science and Technology, non-profits and Fortune 100 corporations.

Finding Value in a Complex System

Positive deviance – the theory of replicating best practices was made popular by Jerry Sternin. In every community, organization, or social group, there are individuals with the same resources that somehow manage to with come up with exceptional behaviors or practices leading to better results. Without realizing it, these “Bright Spots” have discovered some measure of success that if analyzed and isolated can be shared with others.

Craig speaking at TEDxAshokaU in Feb. 2011

When analyzing a new system, its crucial to not only seek out the best practices available to you, but also to map the entire system where your solutions exist. This is typical i.e., identifying a value proposition, but typically results is a missed opportunity. A sensible extension – once you’ve identified your value – would be to scan “left” and “right” to find “joint value” with those players operating the same space. Common sense, but missed as the drive to hit the market place results in lost opportunities. In established companies, this vertical integration allows (occasionally) reduced costs and improved efficiency, but for startups this may the only way to increase competitiveness.

To return to value: an overlooked, but obvious point is succinctly defining your value. Sometimes this may be easy to define: functionality, cost saving, efficiency improvement – but as we start creating more refined businesses and more complex social interaction occur, this won’t be so easy. 10 years ago, Google would have struggled to define their value (they sometimes still do), Facebook would have had no place as the center in a web of relationships, twitter as a shortened communication platform – none of these fit within the typical disciplines, yet none have to. Paradoxically though, there are some that foolishly believe unless you can speak about your business in traditional terms you have nothing to offer. Those that think within these confines will find that they live in a world that no longer is silo’ed and the boundaries between disciplines is not only blurring, but merging.