The decade of disapointment

Plan No Comments

In technology circles, people talk of the ‘decade of disappointment’ – the lag between the awareness of the benefits and opportunities of a new approach or gadget, and the time of its widespread adoption. For example, digital interactive TV was much discussed in the early/mid 90s, but it took a further decade for the availability to be rolled out. I recall asking ‘Cambridge Cable’ in 1993 to be part of their ‘on demand’ service, that I had seen discussed in the national media. It was a decade (and 2 companies later), before something approaching the vision was available through Virgin.

Another example is the awareness of a likely convergence in computing and telephony – this happened a decade or so before the ubiquity of iPhones and the like. In health care, the potential of genetics and its application has a lapse of two decades or so – maybe due to the complexity and regulation of the science as well as other factors (such as staff attitudes and funding).

The lessons:

1) Where do you need to hold your nerve? On that change or engagement project? It is true leaders (and by that we mean anyone seeking to influence the attitudes and actions of others) need to repeat their key message and vision – and not give up ahead of the tipping point. It is the case that some loose heart just before the moment where action is just about to start.

2) What are you spotting now where some ‘what if’ planning would increase the robustness of what you are rolling out and also speed the adoption of the new and noteworthy?


Phil's Blog

Sign up for Phil’s regular blog.