Fight or replace

You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete. ― R. Buckminster Fuller

This quote from Buckminster Fuller has stuck with me for a long time. Uber is a perfect example of this case. They didn’t fight the current system of taxis, but instead made hailing a taxi ride much more convenient, cheaper and transparent (showing you if the route taken by the driver was the best one). When Uber came in, they essentially built a whole new system on top of the old and their technology made the classic taxi system obsolete.

I think that most technological paradigm shifts will follow this archetype ― Create a whole new system on top of existing infrastructure and make the old incumbents unable to keep up. Fuller’s quote will become the law for the next generation of disruptive breakthroughs. Another perfect example is Khan Academy: They didn’t try to fight the education system or complain about the broken existing system. Instead, Sal Khan started creating his own content focusing what he saw as weaknesses of the current system. Using YouTube allowed him to spread content faster, move at an incredible pace and basically deliver to anyone with an Internet connection.

In both of these cases, technology has played an enabling role and it will continue to play an even bigger role in the future. The Internet has matured enough to begin uprooting traditional, a great recent example being Amazon’s push towards fashion brands. The customary line of thought was that people wouldn’t buy clothes online because they can’t feel them or find the proper size but Amazon is challenging that with its own fashion brands.

Amazon Struts Its Fashion Sense, Challenging Traditional Stores

I’m starting to believe more strongly that fighting against a system won’t give long lasting results. To make existing processes or industries more efficient, I think new ideas need to be creative in this sense that it becomes unprofitable for big companies to fight these new incumbants.