Do you tend to see innovations as massive paradigm-shifting change, or as the incremental achievements built on longer-term trends? Obviously, there’s some truth in both perspectives, but I think that most people have a tendency to lean one way or the other in how they interpret what’s going on in the world.
If you know me, you know I tend to be an incrementalist. I think that real honest-to-god paradigm shifts happen, but that they’re pretty uncommon. And they’re usually much slower than you’d think.
I’m often frustrated by what I perceive as a tendency of consultants and media types (especially new media types!) to frame every innovation as revolution. I can understand how one might think it makes better copy, makes you a more dynamic speaker, makes you seem smarter and more interesting. But really, I don’t think it does. The best talk I’ve ever seen about open source is the one in which Eben Moglen weaves the story of open source into the centuries long struggle for freedom, dignity and human rights. Context is sexy.
Also, as someone whose professional practice is all about helping people make and embrace change, I think it’s usually more effective to connect new ideas to the already-familiar, rather than trying to motivate people with the fear of being “obsolete” or missing out on “what everyone else is doing.” One of the most valuable things we can do as consultants is to help people fit confusing new chunks of knowledge into a longer-term framework of ideas and trends. That builds capacity and confidence.