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Mark Federman

I think you're making a very common error of determinism in advancing this argument. I would suggest that there is no one determinant of systemic change or effect in a human system that is governed by principles of complexity. Although fitness as you describe it does indeed play an important role in the ultimate success of any endeavour or product, it is not the sole determinant, nor often even the most important one. Although one counter-example does not an argument make, consider the case of the various office suites that emerged and failed before the overwhelming success and industry dominance of Microsoft Office. In fact, many Microsoft products are not the most fit for the task, but they do dominate - for other reasons - in the marketing ecosystem.

Of equal interest in this regard is Granovetter's 1973 work "The Strength of Weak Ties," not to mention Castell's scholarship in his trilogy from the mid-1990s. I would also suggest that the theory of "the fit get fitter" might be somewhat rebutted by Clayton Christensen's "Innovator's Dilemma" in which he demonstrates how those organizations that are most fit ultimately fail in their ability to innovate and remain current, or indeed, relevant.

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Richard Ogle

  • Richard Ogle is a veteran educator and consultant, and the author of Smart World: Breakthrough Creativity and the New Science of Ideas (Harvard Business School Press, May 2007). His current consulting activities focus on breakthrough creativity in entrepreneurial organizations. Born and raised in England, he came to the United States in 1968, and was awarded a PhD in linguistics at UCLA in 1974. He currently lives with his wife, Laura Bonazzoli, and daughter, Elizabeth, in Camden, Maine.


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