45. Forever Beta

So some people think the joke is on Google for its widespread use of the perpetual beta moniker.  And now, some commercial customers are said to be shying away from the Google productivity suite because of the always beta.  It’s led Google to, apparently, de-beta-fy some of its products.

Of course it’s just an illusion because the world is in perpetual beta.  Nothing is stagnant.  The shift is so that we’re fortunate just to continue standing.  Try to freeze the current environment, just try.  Leave the office for lunch and come back to find the afternoon you had planned is no more; the schedule has been burned by (metaphorical) fires across the organization.

Now extrapolate across an entire organization and it’s easy to see a different approach is necessary.

trendwatching.com, “Think operating in a humble, transparent, unpolished, almost human-like FOREVER BETA mode, not just for one product, but for an entire organization.”

Forever beta is a frame of a mind.  It’s an acknowledgment that the operating environment is fluid, that service is never completely developed, and improvement is always possible.  It’s an acknowledgment that an organization is always in development, the individuals inside the organization always learning, (hopefully) improving.

Organizations in forever beta, wrote influx in 2007, show “vulnerability” and “humanity” (empathy!); they’re “open to questioning and ideas for improvement.”  Opposite (sounds a lot like health care…):

This is a radical contrast with most of the brands that came to life in the C19th and C20th, they have an industrialized view of the world, a view that assumes everything about them should be tightly controlled and perfect.

A world of them and us; the people that make and the people that buy.

Although they are created by humans and staffed by humans, they are somehow always perfect, shiny and immune to the failings of most human beings.

Sadly, for these industrial marketers, this level of control and infallibility longer endearing, the most interesting brands today and in the future are going to be the ones that are honest about their flaws and failings.

Principle #45: our own system is in forever beta. we’re always learning, we’re always working to improve; as Jay Cross writes, “after all, everything is an experiment.”  An experiment in creating excellence.

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