Evolution is OK

SNAGHTML9b9a24aMost things in this world get better by evolving. Through the process of evolution products and processes can and do get better. Contrary to popular opinion there is not always a need to have a revolution. Innovation can be found in iterations.

Bicycles are a good example. They have always been a mode of transportation. They have been adapted from purely functional capabilities to more fanciful and specialized capabilities to what may be a bicycle of the future with no spokes and a direct drive transmission.

Revolutionary Thinking is NOT Bad – It’s Just Hard

I have no problem with Revolutionary Thinking. However, it is the very rare case where a truly new thing that has never been seen or considered before comes to the forefront. Praise the days when it happens, but don’t discount the days where Evolutionary Thinking moves the business forward. Consider a few ideas from the product world below. Similar examples for processes also exist.

Think Products:

  • iPod comes from Walkman
  • DVR comes from VCR which comes from Betamax
  • Facebook comes from MySpace which comes from CompuServe

Radical or Incremental Thinking

Library of Congress, Rosenwald 4, Bl. 5r.jpgThere are a few obvious differences between Radical Thinking and Incremental Thinking.

There is nothing wrong with either one, but to me Incremental thinking (i.e. Evolution) can be adopted and adapted my more organizations. Incremental Thinking is also easier to understand by the people doing it and being affected by it. Like I mentioned above. Revolutionary thinking is not bad … it’s just hard.

  • Radical Thinking involves wide sweeping changes. With the goal of Giant Leaps Forward which typically involves time and a sizable risk.
  • Incremental Thinking is, just as it sounds, comprised of a series of small steps. In theory these steps will be faster to implement and quicker to gauge the effectiveness.

nani gigantum humeris insidentes

Loosely means Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

Evolution and Evolutionary Thinking is NOT Evil (or perhaps to coin a term Evilution). Using the iterative process to achieve success should be encouraged to help people and organizations grow.

Evolution is OK

For organizations seeking continued growth I recommend taking the idea of Evolutionary Thinking at face value. Where Innovation can be found in Iterations. They should allow their people to Stand on the Shoulders of Giants. Perhaps there will be a few epiphanies where this Incremental Thinking leads to great breakthroughs.

What do you think?

  • Can organizations succeed on Evolutionary Thinking alone?
  • Can Evolutionary Thinking and Revolutionary Thinking co-exist?
  • What examples have you seen as Great Evolutionary Thinking?

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imageAbout The Author:
I have spent the last 20 years working in various aspects of the ECM industry. I am currently with
Kodak as a Director of Global Solutions. In my past I have spent time at Kofax, Microsoft, FileNet, K2, and at Captaris (which was acquired by Open Text). Prior to that I was a Unix VAR running my own company. Follow me on Twitter, check my blog, send email or find me on Facebook or LinkedIn.



I think most companies don't understand the differences between revolutionary and evolutionary innovation, pushing their people toward the former when what they really want and need is the latter. I wish more people would make evolutionary innovation (through incremental improvements) part of their daily routines. Honestly, if you want job security, this needs to be part of the way you think and work.