Self-organising complex marketing systems LO26499

From: Chris Klopper (
Date: 04/11/01

Dear Organ-learners

Within an LO we should find a Learning (marketing) Organisation. On an
imaginary ladder of learning we should then also find LMO's at different
levels. It seems to suggest that Marketing can be thought of as a complex
self-organising system within which we will find different self-organising
complex marketing systems. Marketing with an uppercase 'M' therefore
refers to the body of knowledge or a set of mental models, while the
lowercase 'm' refers to the different ways in which the mental models
become visibly manifest through practical application. How either the body
of knowledge or a specific LMO makes progress towards higher levels of
organisation is a large part of why this discussion list remains
compelling, and will not be repeated in this post. Over the last number of
weeks I mined the archives to develop my own understanding of just what it
means to talk about the Self-organisation of Complex Marketing Systems.
The result leaves me breathless.

I have just reached a new personal height in my own understanding of
Marketing as a self-organising complex system. It might only be the first
rung on the ladder, but still I owe a deep debt of gratitude to all who
contribute to this discussion list. This 'new understanding' also gave
birth to some tools which I used to retrospectively analyse the emergence
of the cellular industry. I would like to share the result of this
analysis as an exemplar of 7E thinking. The tools are still too crude and
blunt to show off in discerning company :>).

The starting point for this analysis is the Telco's and the plain old
telephone system (POTS) vs. the GSMcellular ISP's (VODACOM/MTN in our part
of the world). For decades consumers expectations and the rules and habits
that keep them in place, never changed. The domestic telephone culture was
extensively documented by Monty Alexander et al in J Mkt Res Soc 37, 2,
(1995) with their award winning study Big Talk, Small Talk. The study
clearly shows how rules, habits and attitudes determine and constrain
domestic telephone usage. The study was commissioned by British Telecom BT
because of their concern about the ever flattening rate of increase in
domestic per capita telephone usage ( /_\ X = 0 ) in the UK. The very
concept "Big Talk - Small Talk" to which their study gave meaning and
impact, is also the basis of a Conflict Diagram in the tradition of
Constraints Analysis:

*the GOAL (A) is -- prudent household management.
*Necessary condition (B) -- fight unnecessary waste.
*Necessary condition (C) -- create optimal individual and collective satisfaction.
*Pre-requisite of (B) -- do NOT allow 'small talk' over the phone.
*Pre-requisite for (C) -- allow 'small talk' over the phone.

LO contributors in the UK will remember Bob Hoskins in the 'Its good to
talk ' campaign. This conflict diagram clearly illustrates how consumer
expectations 'vibrated' in a narrow range bounded by conflict and
compromise and as such created no real Entropic Force. Which is why so
many Call-More campaigns failed, here and elsewhere. However, technology
was responsible for a huge shift in the telephony paradigm, the shift from
POTS (sessile) to GSM (mobile) systems and therefore Y(1) - Y (2) <> 0.
There was a difference that made a difference for the system as a whole.
Y(1) I am not connected, Y(2) I am connected.

A thorough Industry Analysis using the Five Competitive Forces model
suggested by Michael Porter will show just how OPEN the industry was prior
to the introduction of GSM. Potential new entrants, no significant
barriers to entry, a real need for substitutes, low bargaining power of
suppliers and consumers alike. The WHOLENESS aspect of the rise of GSM
should be seen from the point of view of evolutionary emergence. GSM was
an emergent technology and WAP is just the next instalment. Wholeness is
essential to all evolution. Wholeness has the associativity pattern X*Y*Z
to it. Here X, Y and Z are parts of a whole in the sense that X and Z have
to commute through Y which can thought of as the
mediator/facilitator/counseler/midwife/mentor/tutor/mouthpiece/...' [LO

Early Adopters played the mediating interpretive role, while making the
technology fashionable and aspirational also helped a great deal. Have
cell phones complexified our lives.......absolutely. A huge amount of
resources (billions of dollars) poured into this emergent new industry to
make sure that production and logistics keep pace and that the supply
chain FLOWed freely. Cell phones, contracts and pay-as-you-go cards can be
bought by any-one, anywhere, any time. More has been done to keep people
connected than to keep people healthy. Just about every measure of
Entropic Flux one can think of shot up. The Entropic Force fuelling this
emergence must really be something to behold. What kind of OTHERNESS can
be so powerful? We will have to paint a really rich picture of both
QUALITY and VARIETY to understand it. It is a question too deep to
contemplate for now although contributions will be welcomed. If any
impairment could possibly constrain such a powerful entropic force it
would have occurred in the dimensions SURENESS and SPARENESS. The
development history of GSM so far provides no evidence of such impairments
and so it should provide evidence of (tacit) sensitivity to both to the
contrary. It seems to me that the industry went out of its way to remove
constraints related to quantities and limits. In this country at least it
has established through very generous sponsorships and very visible
advertising campaigns a categorical identity of its own and in palpable
contrast to the POTS provider. Perhaps one of the important lessons in
this case study therefore lies in a better understanding of just how
IDENTITY and CATEGORICITY developed (by accident or by design). The
mobile/sessile differential perhaps provided a useful and understandable
basis for establishing the categorical identity of GSM. Recent research
here shows a growing tendency to opt out of POTS and own only one or often
more cell phones (mostly with GSM fax functionality included). I travel
fairly extensively and it is my impression that cell phone penetration in
this country is at least as deep as in any first world economy I have seen
(excluding Japan), but South Africa is a third world country with mixed
economy at best.

Why did GSM emerge so powerfully? I can say for sure it was not because a
few thoughtful people sat down way back and got their seven essentiality
ducks in a row. The necessary condition was there - entropy production.
Where did the sufficiency conditions come from? If they got it right why
then did so many DOT.COM's fail. What is the difference between connecting
to any-one, anywhere, any time and buying from any-one, anywhere any time?
The nice thing about entropy production in self-organising complex
Marketing systems is irreversibility. Marketing will never be same again.

with kind regards

groetjes............(as they say in Holland)

Chris Klopper


"Chris Klopper" <>

Learning-org -- Hosted by Rick Karash <> Public Dialog on Learning Organizations -- <>

"Learning-org" and the format of our message identifiers (LO1234, etc.) are trademarks of Richard Karash.