On-demand violins

By: | Posted in: Industrial Era / Social Era | Saturday, Feb 12, 2011 - 4:44pm

Those of you who have participated in one of my ‘Five Transformations’ workshops* are familiar with the emphasis I place on the ability to deliver a fundamentally customized, individual-centric product/service. I go so far as to say that it is a ‘price of admission’ for the emerging economy. Individualized Lego sets (that you customize down to the artwork on the box they come in), individualized sneakers and thousands of other products that were until very recently only available as the seller designed them are now available as the buyer designs them. Since 2004, I have been calling this the emergence of the Triple-Soy-Decaf-Latte Economy, and there’s a new development to report: in-home manufacturing.

We are on the verge of an explosion in ‘3D printing’ technology that will allow you to literally manufacture products in your home or office through a ‘printer’. I know, it sounds nuts, but imagine how you would have sounded trying to explain what an iPad does in 1999; by 2021, 3D printing won’t sound weird at all…but it will have been yet another (major) influence on the breakdown of traditional forms of organization. Much more on this theme in future posts but, for know, consider how fundamentally disruptive this kind of technology is to the control and predictability assumption sets of the industrial era; how does one manage an organization that doesn’t know what the specific product is you will buy from them…because you haven’t designed it yet! I’d recommend a quick read of this article from the current Economist magazine: Print Me a Stradivarius and explore Shapeways, a company that will not only let you design and on-demand 3D Print your own stuff (design parameters are still evolving but what’s there is intriguing), but also set up a little virtual shop to sell your customized creations: shapeways.com

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*I’m doing 8 of the Five Transformation sessions (mostly 90-120 minute versions of the longer workshop) over the course of the next 6 months in CT, D.C., Toronto, Denver, and San Francisco. Click here and scroll down to ‘Upcoming Events’ for dates and other info; get in touch with me if the event in your area is sold out or is a private event and I’ll try to work you in.