Crocodiles are old and in their niche, they are unstoppable. The dodo was perfectly suited for its environment.

Coral and algae are even older and they have been radically impacted by environmental changes.

Photo by Lance Anderson on Unsplash

There are young strains of bacteria that have evolved to consume plastic, a food source that did not exist before 1900. Certain breeds of dogs have evolved muscle controls that allow them to mimic human facial expressions.

Given time, everything changes. For some things, adapting to those changes is unnecessary. For other things, it is crucial.

Information technology is still very young.

Photo by Andy Holmes on Unsplash

While tech may have the opportunity to radically alter the landscape of an industry, it may not understand the context. While it might excel at a particular niche, there is no guarantee that niche will exist in one year, ten years, or a hundred years time.

And so, the evolution of industries is a worthy study. A simple walk through Wikipedia will show you what the first companies were, how steam changed the nature of work, and why new technology does not eliminate jobs but creates new versions of them.

If you want to understand FAANG monopolies, look at historic monopolies and the impact of splitting them up. If you want to understand why manufacturing will not return, in the same form, to areas where it left, look at what the loom did to the weaving industry.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Large complex systems do not always need a big disruption to collapse. Sometimes, they need a tiny little nudge in the right place. The gig economy seemed like a big disruption, but it turned out to be a tiny nudge. The hashtag was a tiny nudge in the right place.

If you want to know why tracking warehouse workers will not be a good idea for Amazon, read up on Gilbraith and Taylor. If you want to know what the next shift in the tech industry will be, read up on the arc of the Industrial Age and how it brought us to the Information Age. If you care about seeing into the future, you have to delve more deeply into the past.

The evolution of companies and industries is not impossible to predict. The nature of humans is that we see the past as a clear progression of events and the future as multiple potentials. The truth of the matter is that the past and the future are all a matter of perspectives. The present is what we do with those perspectives.

Photo by Alexander Pidgeon on Unsplash

if i’m not optimizing some operations puzzle or the other, i’m probably reading (or writing, apparently)

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