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No Silver Bullets

Silver Bullets sell!

We all know that that is the case. If you present a simple approach that addresses all the issues presented and you can show that by executing this simple proposal the benefits will grow and that there is financial benefit very fast after your start, you have a hit. Throughout my career I have been in the business of listening to challenges, finding out of what they are composed of and helping finding solutions and helping implementing new ways of doing things and new products and services. As a result of that experience I have to add that silver bullets have a limited reach and mostly only work during a period where a challenge is completely out of proposition with respect to the other challenges. Later on continuing the “silver bullet approach” will create major headaches.

Why do Silver Bullets loose their power over time?

This can have many reasons, but the easiest explanation is that the Silver Bullets resolved a situation that was perceived as static. Meaning that the challenges would not adapt to the new situation. While the reality is, that is does. Just think about the situation where a company X applies for a credit and argues that the loan is secured by having found a big company Y as customer with a growing need for what X can deliver. For a short term loan this probably will do and be the Silver Bullet for the financial needs. However when X wants to grow further and wants to go public, an investigation of the company’s future growth will very likely present the dependence on Y for its future growth an mark it as a treat. So the Silver Bullet to get the loan, became later on a risk for going public . As we all know with success comes responsibility, and that with too much success can create a greater than life responsibility, we need to rethink. In other words as Silver Bullets can help us to get started, they have to be replaced by a multitude of smaller impact approaches, that together could create a sustainable moving target approach that is stable. So low diversity equals low sustainable and in order to avoid low diversity the weak links need to be investigated.

Finding the Weak link.

Every structure has dependencies, some invisible, but most visible to the majority of experts. When such a structure is drawn, it probably has a reasonable base at the bottom, where a high diversity provides components to a higher level that produces subsystems and another level that produces end products and services and a level that distributes them to the end user. Different industries have different number of levels. However the analysis of the weak link is the same and could be presented by asking a few what-if questions. 

  • What-if an entity in the structure fails. Can others take over the position?. So this focuses on the ability of the structure to reorganize itself. Here smart can be expressed as the ability to reorganize. If the structure reveals a small bottle neck due to limited diversity at a certain layer, a failure in that bottle neck with result into a failure of the structure. So low diversity should be avoided at any level.
  • What-if the end customers value another outcome. In what time can the product or service be adjusted?. So it focuses on the response time of the structure to end-user needs. The speedier the needs can be met the smaller the risk.
  • What-if the input resources exhausts? How fast can other resources be used to achieve the same demands? So it focuses on the response time of changing resources. Here more flexible wins.

Although many more what-if questions can be asked, they can probably be pointed back to one of the above. When the above questions are used to look at our financial system, transportation industry, energy and food industries a lot of weak links will be detected, which are caused by too big monolithic blocks that cannot reorganize fast enough to the changing conditions of population and diminishing resources.  

The Silver Bullet.

Apply the next focus on managing applied knowledge through Innovation Economics as that will distribute the power of innovation towards the individual. And if you have to choose between innovation that you have control over or innovation done at the place that is best equipped to do it, what would you choose to get things going?

To get more ideas about Innovation Economics visit.

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