Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Disruptive Technology founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos told 60 Minutes correspondent Charlie Rose candidly that eventually the disruptive company that reinvented retail will itself, at some point in time, become the subject of some other disruptive technology.

Bezos quipped that he hoped it was after he was dead when Amazon is disrupted into the history books, but Bezos was quite clear that in his opinion every company eventually succumbs to disruptive technology, that one can not forecast when that will happen and that nearly every one can not see it coming:

Jeff Bezos: Companies have short life spans Charlie. And Amazon will be disrupted one day.

Charlie Rose: And you worry about that?

Jeff Bezos: I don’t worry about it 'cause I know it’s inevitable. Companies come and go. And the companies that are, you know, the shiniest and most important of any era, you wait a few decades and they’re gone.

Disruption occurs, and it occurs faster more than ever because technology has caused human intelligence and understanding to leapfrog all prior generations.

Indeed, disruption occurs to systems too. Systems don't die as quickly as companies do. Disruption takes more time with systems, but disruption to systems DOES occur, and generally in dramatic fashion.

Systems disruption is an area of study in military study.

Military thinkers like to interrupt social networks and physical networks - they focus on attacks to key components that integrate the facilities of social interaction.

Al Qaeda's strategy over the long term is based on systems disruption. Think 9/11 and the Twin Towers. That single event changed a number of American systems forever: travel, event attendance, banking, privacy, and on and on.

Our entire way of life was completely, and forever, disrupted - and not in any positive way other than the fact that 9/11 showed us just how vulnerable we were as a country and as a society.

So why shouldn't workers' compensation likewise become disrupted?

We are seeing signs of this disruption already with the passage of Oklahoma's reform implementing a form of voluntary work protection benefits.

This sort of disruption takes time to occur because the systems subject to attack are deeply entrenched through political and financial controls.

But eventually those who harbor that control die, as Bezos pointed out.

That's the bottom line.

Consequently such control gets divided and democratized so that others can share in the control.

When those controls are democratized, spread out from a single control unit to several control units, the power that was ensconced in that single unit gets divided, diluted, compromised.

It is this power that maintains the system, and when it is compromised the system itself dilutes, making it vulnerable to disruption.

And that is what we are seeing with workers' compensation. The power bases that were fundamental to the underlying structure and thought of workers' compensation have been compromised, diluted, and are now, more than ever, subject to disruption.

The fact that people complain about a "broken system" or that there is even any debate at all about a "broken system" is symptomatic of this state of vulnerability.

I suspect that Oklahoma's forging ahead with this disruption to the normal workers' compensation pattern won't take that long to facilitate other disruptive social technologies.

Not every state is going to implement some version of opt-out strategy. Most say, for instance, that there is no way in the world that California would succumb to any attempts to allow employers to "opt out."

But who said that opting out of workers' compensation is the ONLY socially disruptive technology that can occur?

I'm with Bezos and when I put my chips down on the table I going with the long bet - that workers' compensation itself will succumb to socially disruptive technology eventually.

I may not be around to actually witness it, but I can feel it. It is inevitable. You will either be on board during the transition, or you will be left behind to die.

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