A Two Stage Process

May 4, 2010 5 Comments

|Photo by TeresaM3Kids|http://www.flickr.com/photos/teresam525/3530463356/|


|Photo by Johan J.Ingles-Le Nobel|http://www.flickr.com/photos/43147325@N08/4370125469/|

I’m a big fan of Kevin Kelly.  His latest blog post reflects on what he calls “Two Kinds of Generativity” and it has me thinking about the next phase of movement.  Kelly describes the evolutionary process of an innovation.  He speaks of the first stage as one that is “vague, incomplete and open to change.”  This first stage is appealing to the early adapters, “tinkerers, nerds, fans, and hacks who will make it do all kinds of things no one had thought of.”

Kelly argues that an innovation naturally moves from the first stage to its second stage, where it becomes:

“more specialized and ‘complete’ as it evolves… it becomes more specific in what it does, more closed in its identity, more clear in what it is. It becomes more powerful in evolving its identity. As it matures it becomes more completed, more approachable, more understandable, more able to do things for more people.”

I find this a very useful description of the evolutionary process.  This next phase of movement that I often speak of, this paradigm shift that seems increasingly evident, is still in its first evolutionary stage.  Its incompleteness makes it exciting to some of us and it makes it a turn off for many others – people don’t get it yet, they don’t know what to do with it, this is why it is often so hard to find funding or to build partnerships with well established partners.

Organic, relationship-based, networked, emergent – the paradigm is here, but it is still being born.  Let’s not waste our energy trying to persuade those who will sit back and wait for the second stage to come.  Let us instead come together, support each other, co-create and evolve this thing we are trying to do until it gets cooked enough to enter the second stage.


  • Jodie says:

    yes, let’s. xo

  • Linda says:

    Just wondering if social movement follows the same stages as technology. Do you have any sense of that? Might there be more or less or different stages for movement? I don’t know, just wondering…

  • Gibran says:

    Linda – I’m not reading Kelly’s frame as a tecnology frame but as an evolutionary frame, I believe that evolution does follow these stages. I imagine when the first giraffe showed up with an awkardly long neck and all the other short neck giraffe’s thought it was weird and it didn’t make sense – then, as a few others saw that it was easier to eat apples with a long neck, they started to grow necks too!

    Revolutionaries, peaceful or otherwise, on the left or on the right, first start up coming together in small groups, most of which fail, until they coalesce, shift, change and then, step 2 – they catalyze large scale change.

  • me says:

    that did not help at all

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *