Posts tagged ‘intention’

Fast Iteration: lessons from genetic programming

Okay, I am not going to get too geeky here, but there are important lessons that I have learned from hanging around with some serious geeks. One lesson was about the power of value networks (learned from the open source community). The other is the power of fast iteration. This one I learned from practitioners of genetic programming.

The origins of genetic programming dates back to 50’s but it really only began to come into its own after the turn of the century (doesn’t that sound quaint?) with cheap access to serious computing horsepower. The idea was that you could develop programs that could evolve themselves to solve complex problems.

Okay guys, let’s get one thing out of the way. Yes, there is evolution. Not all programs are created in unblemished perfection.

Key concept here: “evolve themselves”.

Basically, what you can do is to take a set of generic programs and point them at a complex question that needs to be solved. Turn them on, and walk way. Lo and behold, the problem is eventually solved.

In essence, in the darkened room of discovery, the programs begin to try to address the problem. They try, and fail, and learn from that failure, then morph, and try again. Over and over again until the answer is found.  This process often takes hours, but it has been successfully demonstrated multiple times.

But if you think about it, this process is the same for any innovation. It needs to be focused. It needs to iterate a potential new solution multiple times, and it needs to learn. At its core, the innovation process needs be obsessive, agile and unrelenting. In time, it will work. Always. Though probably not in the way you expected.


July 25, 2014 at 10:22 AM Leave a comment

Ulterior Motives

A recent post on Social Media Explorer grapples with the issue of intention. If markets are conversations, how do you converse honestly with someone when your ulterior motive is to make a sale?

Jason Falls’s concern illuminates the problem with our short-term business ethos. Companies are under pressure to boost their stock prices and sales figures each quarter. Individuals are driven by the same short-term intention. The relationships that result are all started for the purpose of short-term gain, with the single transaction the only justification for participation.

Little wonder people are turned off. They’re not dumb. But then Jason asks:

If we act, though, not as marketers, but as members of the community, network or environment in which we’re participating with the audience, do we chip away at that mistrust?

The answer is yes. In fact, companies can and should not just be participants, but facilitators in a community. To name just three, Intel, Adobe and National Semiconductor are known for hosting vibrant online support communities. By enabling continual discussions not just between them and users, but also user-to-user, they’re building their customers’ trust.

To move from activity-based to community-based marketing is to gain customers’ trust. Instead of trying to control the conversation, and push your idea out, you let the users control the conversation, learn from each other, and in many cases, take themselves through the sales process. A frightening thought to control freaks, but the companies that practice community-based marketing are earning trust, building long-term relationships, and yes, making sales.

April 12, 2010 at 7:50 AM Leave a comment

Thompson Morrison

Thompson Morrison

About Thompson

As CEO of FUSE Insight, Thompson Morrison uses powerful new web interviewing technologies to help businesses better align their brand with the needs and aspirations of their customers. Learn more at


"The single most significant strategic strength that an organization can have is not a good strategic plan, but a commitment to strategic listening on the part of every member of the organization." -- Tom Peters