June 30, 2006

Manageability says :

Truth is, although we collectively see the train wreck coming, we don't collectively witness the failure as a single unequivocal event.


Why is it, that although we can intuitively grasp that a standardization effort is wrong, we don't seem to be able to stop it?

Why are Standardization Train Wrecks always in Slow Motion?

Maybe there's some simple game theoretical model for this. It's some kind of interesting question about individuals and the commons. You win if you jump on the standard early and it "does" become a standard. You also win if you avoid the standard and it fails. However you lose if you jump on the standard and it fails, or you avoid the standard and it wins. This is basically the "majority game". You want to join the majority.

On the other hand, there's a timing issue. The later you join a standard, the less value you get from it. (Because early movers have an advantage in designing it to suit themselves, plus they get early expertise and recognition.) On the other hand, the earlier you are in a standard's life, the less knowledge you have about whether it will be succesful, so the more risky the investment.

Also, maybe the stakes for being involved in a standard varies with the size of the agent involved. It's worse to be seen as a multi-national who missed out on the next big thing, than a small-business who pragmatically waited until the signposts were clearly visible.

Could be an interesting model for someone to build.
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