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How to predict the future of Web 2.0?

When you’re faced with a challenge at work, in your personal life or are helping someone you know problem solve, what process do you follow? If you’re someone considering (or building) the next great Web 2.0 application or product, what are you looking at to decide if you should even bother to build it?

Right this minute I’m involved in several initiatives that are blazing trails. Doing things that have kinda, sorta been done before but not fully, not efficiently or in a particular way. So to be truly innovative, gain attention and create something new, it’s important to look behind you at what’s been done, what worked and what didn’t. Then gain a sense of where things are at right now…and only then make decisions on next steps.

I’m a bit of a Clayton Christenson devotee (he’s a Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School (HBS)). I’ve read several of his books and listened to him speak (and, by the way, I delight in his discussions surrounding open source). One of his many observations and challenges to Harvard is surrounding their case study method. It’s basis is rooted in looking back at what worked, dissecting it within the context of the time it happened and the macro and micro economic environment, and figure out what were the key elements that defined best practices and success criteria.

The problem is that their case study method is historical in nature and not focused on the future.

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