The mainstream and the fringe. “We are one, but we are not the same”

These two sound like conflicting, but is really a symbiotic relationship. What it looks like dissenting views and philosophies, it’s actually the oldest and most primal mechanism of survival for a whole entity. Two opposites extremes working together, although they don’t feel they are. Not opposites but members of the same thing, a One.Like the ying and the yang, each provides the other with the element of survival. There is no fringe without a mainstream, and there is no lasting mainstream without renewal by the fringe. In this little theory, the fringe is always the little brother aiming at being the older brother with greater power, and the mainstream always too confident of his qualities to subjugate any rebellion from the fringe, although unconciusly allowing its existence.

In science and innovation, creativity derives from different perspectives and ways of seeing things that are never recognised to be innovative, or creative, or anything of worth keeping,  unless they are sanctioned by the mainstream. As so, to do this requires significant social oil (intelligence) that can lubricate and translate the new ideas in a way that dominates the mainstream and provides a new parameter. The usual way is by masking the ideas, so it doesn’t really look to alter the mainstream beliefs of the field, but just a portion of them, while in reality being just an excuse for total defeat of the old paradigms.

In business, the same process happens where old business try to merge the fringe into the mainstream and get the new ideas and businesses by buying its new steam and power. However, we see a tendency now that these incorporations cannot revitalize the mainstream or are actually killed when triying to be absorbed. The two bodies being so different, that even after allowing for some independence, just it’s proximity causes toxicity that end ups killing the new young organism. Therefore, many young business things (aka startups), and much helped by the new low cost technologies, are deciding to keep going on their own, and eventually, without opposing directly in battle, silently suffocate the mainstream, while generating new entities capable to substitute their place in the ecosystem without provoking chaos. The old mainstream dies from lack of successful renewal, or lack of real intent at incorporating the innovation fringes once promised. Like a case of indigestion.

The horizontal look of the mainstream and the fringe in science innovation, business, and society allows something to emerge, because although they have similarities everyone operates in a different way.

The fringe only changes society very slowly. Large groups to move, and several generations to incorporate the changes might be the cause. While for innovation in a science domain, once the fringe has captivated the key constituency of the field masters, is basically adopted and becomes the new mainstream of it. But not of business, even less for society, the law of the big numbers and evolutionary history applies. And therefore, it seems that the speed of change is directly related to diversity, and size in numbers of the constituency to be changed. Finally, for business the numbers are larger than a science field, but smaller than society in general. The challenge becomes not only enlisting the key individuals, but also winning the far corners of organisation into the new venture slowly, but steady. A benefit for business is its lack of a democratic process, and the possibility of complete mandated focus in getting the process of renewal right, and better every time. However, that same advantage has been in practice a hindrance, as many corporate leaders have used their dictatorial powers to keep the stand still, and almost providing a red carpet welcome for the fringe to succeed.


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