The verb “converge” means to come together as if to meet or join.[i] The adjective “convergent” means having the tendency to become similar while adapting to the same environment. The noun “convergence” is defined in Wikipedia as “ the act of moving toward union or uniformity; a meeting place; the intersection of three electron beams for red, green and blue onto a single pixel in a CRT (cathode ray tube); (Mathematics): the process of approaching some limiting value; (Physiology): the coordination focusing of the eyes, especially at short range; (Biology): the evolution of similar structures or traits in unrelated species in similar environments; convergent evolution; and the merging of distinct technologies, industries, or devices into a unified field.
Clearly there is not one monolithic type of convergence. And convergence can apply to anything from spiritual to harmonic; political gatherings to festivals, music to literature, social sciences, computing and technology, natural sciences and under mathematics:- properties, theorems, notions, generalizations, applications and modes – yes, it is all there.
However the notion of convergence in business and in business profit models or business patterns is gathering popularity. Convergence in business causes “Frontiers (to) fall. The rules of competition change.” (Profit Patterns)[ii] They go on to say “competitive boundaries are evaporating. Previously solid competitive walls are disintegrating in industries as varied as materials, financial services, life sciences and retail. In the convergence pattern, competitors from previously distinct industries start competing for each other’s customers.”[iii]
Patterns exist everywhere, but they are not always exact replicas of themselves. Patterns are used in learning and in language. Patterns are certainly not new. Indeed we learn from experience by learning from patterns – what follows next? – Until we automatically know what follows… “Chess is a game of patterns; patterns about how the game has unfolded, about where the game stands at the moment, and, most importantly, about where the game is heading. In chess, the player with the best skill at pattern recognition has a critical advantage.”[iv] Our knowledge, our logic, our problem solving abilities and even our instincts, our survival are based on patterns and pattern recognition.
Patterns can be exact replicas (a carbon copy) and they can be similar, they can be fractional copies, they can be siblings and similar relate or be related to each other or they can be lovers in a relationship. Synonyms for pattern includes original, prototype, archetype, model, outline, stencil, tessellation, category, blueprint, mould, guide, cycle, example, precedent and similarity. Patterns shift and move around, they are neither always constant nor orderly, nor are they easy to read. Patterns can be obscured, hidden or simply difficult to spot. Hence it is the detail and the nuance of patterns that determine its value. It is the fine-tuning of the reading that adds expertise and that adds value. Just as the fortune-teller or tarot-ready is able to assess your life patterns, your cycle, your blueprint of what you have learnt and how your respond to the stimuli of your life, so can other pattern readers assess the pattern. And answer the ‘what’ questions – what is future, what is wrong with me and what is the weather going to do?
“Patterns open our eyes, our thinking. They give us clues. They tell us what signals to look for?”[v]
(Also posted on wtfmediaconf – the blog) For more on the conference http://www.wtfmediaconf.co.za.
[i] The Concise Oxford Dictionary, 1991, 8 edn, Oxford University Press.
[ii] Slywotzky, AJ, Morrison, DJ, Moser, T, Mundt, KA, Quella, JA 1999, Profit Patterns: 30 ways to anticipate and profit from strategic forces reshaping your business. Wiley. Sussex, England.
[iii] Ibid p67
[iv] Ibid p 3
[v] Ibid p48