Serious Politics

Saturday, January 5th, 2008

It’s been a while since I last mentioned Michael Schrage’s Serious Play, which examines how organizations use models, simulations, and prototypes to stimulate innovation.

One of his key points is that prototypes are always political, because knowledge is power, and this warps how prototypes get made and shared:

As we have seen, some prototypes raise political questions that the organization is unwilling or unable to answer. A primary reason for the failure of the IBM PCjr home computer in the mid-1980s was that IBM management had decided it might cannibalize sales from IBM’s popular line of personal computers. The product of a spec-driven culture, the PCjr was deliberately hobbled in the prototyping process to thwart that possibility. Less than two years after its introduction, the PCjr was withdrawn. IBM’s internal politics of prototyping killed it.

Leave a Reply