“Understanding Innovation”

Ebola-CDC briefThis is just another pearl from Marshall McLuhan’s “Understanding Media”. According to McLuhan, innovation would be like the Ebola virus for big industry. Not as crazy as it may sound:

Any innovation threatens the equilibrium of existing organization. In big industry new ideas are invited to rear their heads so that they can be clobbered at once. The idea department of a big firm is a sort of lab for isolating dangerous viruses. When one is found, it is assigned to a group for neutralizing and immunizing treatment. It is comical, therefore, when anybody applies to a big corporation with a new idea that would result in a great “increase of production and sales.” Such an increase would be a disaster for the existing management. They would have to make way for new management. Therefore, no new idea ever starts from within a big operation. It must assail the organization from outside, through some small but competing organization. (M. McLuhan, “Understanding Media”, page 336)

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