On strategic perception III: Perception theorist meets a strategist

December 4, 2013 § Leave a comment

This is not the right place to make a detailed ‘correspondence analysis’ of the perception system architectures, intelligent perception-action systems (very little is actually known of them), and the strategy process elements but surely this will be happening in the future strategy research. Here I deal with a few less-known but inspiring aspects of perception, which I have admired over the years and explain their implications to strategy thinking. Further, although it is not often mentioned here I assume that all perceptions-action processes are tuned and colored by feelings, experiences, and emotions.  We cannot live without them. Of course, not all phenomena described are new or novel, but they are worthwhile to ponder.

I chose the following ones: functional structure of perception, invariance-based perception, and opportunity perception. The last one is a relatively novel concept and even non-existent – as far as I know – in perception sciences (cf. https://gotepoem.wordpress.com/2011/07/12/small-creative-acts-and-opportunity-perception/). The point here is to see if they could offer guidelines to the design of efficient strategy processes.


Functional structure of perception

 The human perception system is the best example of a successful strategic architecture I can imagine.  However, it is not as well known as many would think. If you doubt this claim just try to find a general theory on perception in the scientific literature – it does not exist although masses of data, some promising ‘small’ theories, and research paradigms exist.

No species can survive without agile perception-action; it is our essential capability supporting our development as primitive and cultural organisms – simultaneously. Of course, each species has its own advantages like the extended spectrum of vision in birds and insects, the amazing skill of birds to ‘compute’ the time-to-target time in their flight, the infrared sense of snakes or the zoom-like properties of the eagle eye. These exceptional qualities have provided them with real, perception-based strategic advantages. Here I use a few metaphorical views – derived from the analysis of intelligent perception – for the architectural analysis of the strategy processes in firms.

Strategic lessons of perception architecture

Ascending centers of intelligence. During biological development the increasingly intelligent processes of organisms are progressively drawn upwards in the (neural/sensory-perceptual) system. There are upper limits to this, and because of that the most developed species like some birds, mammals and humans have learned to outsource parts of their perception-action architecture  (use of tools, writing, technology in general, cultural objects). These intelligent resources are then refined and incorporated into the perception-action system, while the early object and feature recognition processes are made fast, reliable, and automatic.

There are two parallel development streams in the evolution of the perception-action architecture: towards faster and automatic early processes and towards the intelligent higher levels, including the adoption of tools. Interestingly, when humans learned to produce – outsource their specific perception/action processes – cultural objects, symbols and even writing, development did not stop there. Instead this material then became available for the internal processes as well in the form of imagery and imagination. Because of that, intelligent perception has become a continuously evolving system with interacting external and internal components.

It is not straightforward at all to define any upper limit to the quality and kind of tools that can be adopted. Of course it s possible to speculate about the neural processing limits of the mankind, but we simply do not have enough scientific knowledge to support this analysis (cf. https://gotepoem.wordpress.com/2011/04/17/203/).
Human retina, for example, does not deal with the most complex visual processing and has allocated it to higher or ‘later’ layers, at the cortex.  Frog and rabbit eyes, on the other hand, use significant resources to record movement direction, for example, already on the retina in a way that does not take place in the human eye. The ‘bug detector’, an example of the early intelligence,  is a term originally used in the study of frog retina where such detectors exist.

The evolutional pathway may appear as a contrast to the prevalent organizational development of shifting decision power in the top-down direction. But a good strategic question remains, what kind of intelligent processing is valuable enough – and why – to be shifted higher up and transformed in the command chains or system network and what exactly is good to implement at lower levels and in what form and content? It is not only a division of labor between the lower and higher level processes but a genuine change of quality in both. Notice that I do not use the expression ‘should be left to’  – I want to emphasize that it is a matter of intelligent and learning resourcing of the organism’s strategy.

With the complex, emerging value network environments of future firms the distribution of different resources in the firm becomes an increasingly difficult strategy problem. We have outlined some of the behavioral aspects of this challenge in  “Behavioral theory of a networked firm in value network environment” (Göte Nyman et al., 2013). Preparing this blog I realized how significant role ‘network perception’ – the way a firm perceives an environment and itself – has in value network analysis.

Humans and rabbits have different strategic landscapes in the world and nature keeps experimenting with the biological strategies. As a result, our higher brain centers have become specialized in the analysis of complex, neurally computable object relationships (related e.g. to spatial analysis, numerosity, scene structures, color relationships, sound source recognition, among many others) in the external and internal world. Surprisingly little, however, is known how the brain perceives the internal environment. I have observed a neglect of the formal analysis of the internal perception in firms, but a similar tendency seems evident in psychological sciences, too – there is a scant interest in the formal-theoretical study of internal perception.  This is not the place to go deeper in this topic, but I do mean more than just subjectivity in referring to the problem of strong form of internal perception.  I believe hat in a near future many of the internal perceptual phenomena we now call ‘experiences’ or ‘conscious processes’ will be treated as specific forms of pattern recognition and decision making.

Assigning perceptual bandwidth and priorities. Connectivity to the higher centers from the sense organs, the retina for example, is arranged so that the most relevant information from the sensory ‘radar-field’ (the center of view in vision, sensitivity of fingertips, and lips, for example) is assigned a significant information transmission and pre-processing power. There are also ‘fast lanes’ that carry relevant attention-grabbing visual and other sensory information along special pathways somewhere higher in the system, where it has special value. At the moment we can only speculate about these functions. In the Vasa ship case, there was no fast lane to carry the perception data to the King who could have stopped the maiden cruise or warned about its dangers.
Foveal information from the visual field with diameter of only a few degrees uses most of the fibers from the human retina to the brain centers. The primary cortical areas have large cell masses reserved for hands, fingers, lips and the tongue, for example. Frogs for example, have a different retinal organization and the frog’s eye is more uniform in this sense and it roughly reminds of a camera sensor-cell system.

Considering firms, we can ask how should information-action relevance be defined and how to assign the bandwidth within the whole perceptual architecture? Of course it is a strategic resourcing question, but with increasing importance of dynamic, networked environments it becomes a wicked problem. Hence, whatever the answer to this will be – or was in the case of the financial crisis, Vasa ship, Challenger investigations, the Finnish Government – it is a most profound matter of strategic analysis and discourse in any organization. However, it is not uncommon to rely on strategic conventions and measures that together with a rigid power structure actually mask the perceptive processes.

Purposeful feed-back. Division of (fast) labor, feed-back, and functional organization starts as early as possible in the sensory pathway, already before the higher centers are reached, and it continues there and throughout the system. All human sensory systems (and already on the retina, or in the auditory pathway, for example) have strong feed-back (also lateral feed, either inhibiting or exciting) at all levels which helps the system to adapt fast to changing environmental conditions. Feed-back has different functions, depending at what level of the system it happens. The early processing, sensory feed-back can e.g. clean the noisy incoming stream of data and help reveal the relevant signals from other stimulation like overall luminance in vision and the noise background in hearing. At higher levels feed-back can have a role in a complex state control and world model updating, for example.

But not all feed-back is valuable – its system properties like time constants, purpose and processing cost determine its value – which in the natural, dynamic organizational context is actually difficult to model and quantify.

Cross-functional connectivity. Very early and rich connections are made with functionally different (other senses, motion, emotion, attention and arousal control, orientation etc) centers in different parts of the cortical and subcortical brain. All senses feed to the brain centers responsible for the sleep-wakefulness, orientation, and alertness. In other words, they all have access to vital function of our bodies. It is not well known how and why these connections have developed but of course it is easy to speculate that they provide – what is now known in organizations – a possibility for the bottom-up and top-down information to cross functional boundaries in order to guarantee relevant state-related behavior in the multi-dimensional world. Extreme specialization and functional separation would be inefficient, costly, and probably disastrous.

Early relationship processing. This is perhaps the most foundational aspect of sensory and perceptual processing but it is rarely discussed in popular texts on perception: as soon as possible, perception becomes relational (relationship computations). As a result, information about signal feature (and object) relationships – not of the features themselves – is carried to or offered for further analysis by higher centers. For example, there is no exact or unique point-to point mapping between the optical image on the retina and the visual cortex.  Knowing that a visual cortical cell is active does not allow back-wards computing to know what exactly has caused its activity. The same is true for all sensory data. We live in the middle of an inverse problem of the brain and life. Top-down connectivity makes this kind of systems even more complex – but also adaptive.

The relationship extraction starts already at the receptor level. In the eye, a receptor cell does not sit there quiet waiting for photons to arrive and to excite it. It has a hidden biological engine that keeps its membrane potential at a suitable level for survival. When photons then hit it, a biochemical process with strong ionic feed-back processes is initiated and the membrane potential changes: this is called cell response, but actually it is a cell system response and intimately connected with the surrounding biochemical processes.  The physical world as we interpret and experience it has already at the receptor layer lost its 1-1 mapping on our senses. In this sense it is impossible to exactly perceive the world. But there is sense in this: without such a relativistic process the brain would be overloaded with ‘stupid’ information – copies of the optical images or sound waves and the system just would not work. It would be ore or less like a digital computer memory. If our senses copied the word in 1-1 fashion our mind would be a universe of crowded with irrelevant material – a perfect bureaucracy.

I don’t think that any (human) measurement conducted by an organization is different from what goes on in the retinal cell. It is basically a relationship extraction process by an active recipient (a worker, analyst, researcher, engineer) who extracts (locally, but dependent) meaningful relationship information from the received stimuli (customers, partners, contractors, networks). Then there is the inverse problem in trying to interpret the data – what exactly has caused that data to be available?

In simple firm situations this relationship perception happens without problems: monitoring well-known phenomena or conducting straightforward measurements can be accomplished without errors and we have learned to make the right guesses and behave accordingly.  But as soon as the objects of observation become dynamic, complex, dependent on other objects, or just adopt unexpected behaviors, the characteristics of the observer or the observing systems as a whole start affecting the ‘measurement’.  This is nothing new to theoretical physicists. The observer characteristics are affected by system variables, like the royal pressure in the Vasa case or the limited field of view of the financial analysts of the US Government during the crisis.

When an event is measured or perceived the priority-one goal for the organism, or a firm, is to guess what has caused the event. But the same percept can occur for totally different reasons. Only a tested or otherwise reliable theory or a model of the world can help the perceiver to interpret the measurement data.

Integration of feature, object and scene information. All incoming sensory information is integrated and sensed together: the perceptual system makes holistic inferences about it and makes always one plausible and possible interpretation (object vs. background, for example) about the world perceived. This is why flight simulators (vision, sense of acceleration, tilt) or 3D movies with various augmentation features (tremor, water puffs, sound surround) work so fine and we are led to feel as if living in one world only – it really is a miracle performance how we accomplish this since other alternative world interpretations do exist always, both in real life and in simulators. Sometimes such a unique interpretation is not stable and we can see alternating versions of the same world. This happens in the well-known figure-ground perception demonstrations but it is not rare in firm contexts where the management can disagree whether they are facing a threat or an opportunity. There are some eye-opening visual demonstrations of this:




Attentive mechanisms guide perception and efficient action. Priority systems govern the perception processes and have the capability to orient the system towards the relevant source and to invest the best resources to the analysis and required responses. Amazingly, the attentive system is actually capable – almost hardwired – to take the full system (body and soul) control for a limited amount of time, as long as it is necessary to gain relevant understanding of the environment or of the organism itself and act accordingly. However, it is not only a catastrophe processing protocol, it is a most natural part of our everyday life and behavior.

Shared resources for internal and external analysis. Partly the same higher processes start dealing with both sensory information originating from the environment and the information generated within the system (imagination, memory, attention, for example). It is not well known how all this happens in the brain and senses although a popular topic are the mirror cells believed to demonstrate just this kind of resource sharing (cf. Rizzolatti, for example).

Perceptual invariance.

This is a fascinating but not well-known aspect of perception. In this context invariance refers to the relationship between the elements of the world that remain perceptually constant or similar under variable conditions. When we perceive the world or our own internal states we do not directly experience the invariant relationship because it is inherent or inbuilt in our experiences. A popular example from human vision is instructive.  Let us assume that the retinal image size of a person we are looking at from a 2 meter distance is 14 mm high. When the person then moves to 4 m distance from us the size of the retinal image becomes halved and it will be 7 mm. Amazingly, and as we all have experienced it, we do not see the size of a person to shrink (with the size of the retinal image) when he moves away from us.  This is called size constancy and it is based on a perceptual size invariance: the brain has detected something in the world, a relationship between the image of the person and then image of his environment (room height, for example) on the retina that remains relatively the same in both situations. This makes it possible to perceive the object size as a constant. We have no experience of this ‘computational’ process happening, it simply happens as a percept.

When firms measure any objects of interests they face the same challenge that some call the contextuality of the data: having the measurement data is not enough and can even be misleading  if they do not know the scene against which it has been observed or collected. Market data, for example can be highly sensitive to the cultural background  of the consumers which makes comparing the purchasing behaviors in different cultures problematic. This can introduce a risk of misinterpreting the  data. On the other hand, having the relevant data about the scene or environment can provide significant added value to the computations and make them more intelligent.

Perception experimentalists do know that if we observe a person totally without the environment, this constancy disappears or is at least weaker. Through the invariance phenomenon we have gained the knowledge that the observed object (the person) has not changed although the image (information) of him has shrunk on the retina. It is a most intelligent and valuable ability to perceive objects and phenomena in the world as the same even though our sensory mechanisms record significant changes that are caused by the environment or the behavior of the target itself.

Our brains have learned to infer the nature of an object from the information provided by other aspects of the world and the workings of our senses. It is an extremely complex process. Perception is not a simple physical measurement process and it is actually rather bad in measuring anything (physically) objectively but it works for us in this world and at the scale of our living.

If we did not have this ability we would be exhausted. According to a story, there is a small fish – the journal reference to which I have lost – that does not have this size constancy and it has been reported to attack anything that produces a certain size of a retinal image on its eye: sometimes the object can be an edible, nearby bug or a large fish far away from its reach. You can guess how such a creature behaves in clear water: it wastes a lot of energy. Maybe it lives in murky waters, where it just cannot see far, I don’t know.

Any organization should be interested in the internal and external object relationships that remain invariant. However, it is equally important to notice when an invariance is breaking down because it is a sign of significant change in the state of the world or of its objects. A current (analogical, a bit far fetched perhaps) example is the popular media discourse on print vs. digital magazine consumption. Not so long ago, some analysts seemed to think that it is basically a zero-sum phenomenon: an invariant total number of printed and digital magazines are read per customer. They claimed that because of this invariance, the fast increase in digital magazine consumption is causing the death of print.

If the ‘perception system’ of a firm is tuned only to direct measures and metrics it will miss the important relationships. For example, market data has not shown the magazine reading to fall with the same speed as digital reading has increased.  Similarly, the number of car accidents has not increased in direct proportion to the number of mobile phones used in cars – indicating that mobile phone use in cars is not directly causing car accidents. Such relationships are complex and finding invariances is puzzling. But they are hugely important in understanding the world through perception.

Other current examples are facebook and Twitter, for example, and the type of networks people (unconsciously) build there. There are many business-, technological, and economical reasons to be curious about what in these behavior networks remain structurally invariant even when their size and connectivity changes (http://www.nature.com/srep/2013/130828/srep02522/full/srep02522.html. Having this knowledge can help planning campaigns, estimate ROIs, distribute any information and reach audiences- commercially or otherwise. Basically, this too is a matter of recognizing the invariances – and why they occur.

It is a most strategic perceptual decision to select between two or more alternative world-views. The famous works by Kahneman and Tversky, the Nobel laureates demonstrations were no different from this, only the decision domains studied were different: they could show how people make different decisions depending whether they have a vision of sacrificing or saving people. Such a vision would, on average, determine how people perceive the problem at hand, which would then have a significant impact on the perceived problem solving opportunities. On the other hand, there is a good reason to ask how often we actually perceive the world in such a clean arrangement?


Opportunity perception (OP).

I have described the essence of OP as I understand it in https://gotepoem.wordpress.com/2011/07/12/small-creative-acts-and-opportunity-perception. Every now and then organizations are surprised by a competitor perceiving the world in a totally different – productive or disastrous – way.  One of my most educational experiences dates back to year 2001 in trying to encourage the technology management at Nokia to open their device systems for sw developers and to create what is now seen as an ecosystem. In giving the talk to the Nokia tech managers – it included this explicit suggestion – I could immediately see and feel that they did not perceive any opportunity in what I was offering.  Only one of about 40 participants – she had a psychology (!) background  – approached me and commented on its importance and relevance. Surprised by this lack of interest and reaction I wrote a letter back to one of the supervisors, even put it in English and suggested it to be shared:

The issue concerns the degree to which mobile phone products (or other related or similar products in general) should have an architecturally open structure for usability components”. Then I continued:  “There is no doubt that some major player in this area will open up their devices and in some phase get a status as open standard and start an avalanche of usability applications from personal to very specific ones and even technical…” (dated on 5h January, 2001).

Nothing happened, no reaction.  Anyone who knows or remembers what was going on in the mobile phone industry then, understands that this was a very-very early indication of an opportunity. We all know what Apple did – apparently perceiving the opportunity.

The question arises: what prevents from seeing even the most valuable strategic opportunities? In this specific case all professionals in Finland already new about the open Linux and everyone could follow the Mac/Apple use culture; the evidence was there for everyone to see, it was not a weak signal – but it was not perceived.

Engagement aversion is a peculiar type of blindness

Immediate threats are easy to see, to recognize the opportunities for being damaged or hurt and to react because it is imperative. It is a very basic biological requirement for survival.  Positive opportunities, on the other hand, mean an invitation to a voluntary engagement, perhaps a change of the current world view  – and it requires time & work, re-orientation and re-thinking. It is a demanding strategic requirement and especially when the dominant ways to perceive seem to work well. In such situations it is not rare at all to observe what I have called ‘engagement aversion” in managers who already are overloaded by responsibilities and tight schedules.

Opportunity perception and entrepreneurship

‘Strategy’ in the firm relies on the perception of opportunities to achieve the vision and to reach the related sub-goals. In cognitive psychology, chess is a popular research model of strategic decision making and players have been studied in order to understand high-level strategic perception and action together, cf. e.g. de Groot, A. D. (1965). Thought and choice in chess. The Hague: Mouton & Company;  Hartston, W. R. & Wason, P. C. (1983). The psychology of chess. London: Batsford.

But even these studies the concept of perception is somewhat vague and researcher like Simon and Chase (1973), for example, were skeptical about the possibility to obtain relevant verbal information about perception at all:

“The player’s perceptual processing of the board is so rapid (and probably unavailable to conscious introspection) that it is impossible to obtain an accurate verbal description of the process from him.”

They focused on the rather primitive concept of ‘chunk’ in perception and memory. Actually it refers to a meaningful cognitive storage and perception entity (the exact nature of which is practically unknown) – a kind of knowledge package – that the players use in various chess-related tasks. A simple lesson from these well-known studies was that the masters of chess perceive and pay attention to meaningful structures and relationships, not individual pieces of the game and in this sense they differ from amateurs. Professional wine tasters have a similar ability: they use a rich and systematic vocabulary for classifying and differentiating wine tastes, which allows them to perform better than amateurs. As far as I know, it is not yet known, which chemical aspects in the wines exactly produce the most informative taste perceptions that the tasters then actually use for evaluating the various aspects of the wine quality.

The exceptional skills of the wine tasters are not rare aspects of intelligent human perception in general, and with my team POEM we have numerous similar findings from the studies on the perception and evaluation of camera and print image quality, for example (cf. https://gotepoem.wordpress.com/2010/11/14/subjective-image-quality-beauty-and-the-beast-in-vision/). Similarly,  Tapio Lokki from Aalto University in Finland has conducted most impressive studies on the subjective perception and evaluation of the quality of spaces like concert halls (cf. https://mediatech.aalto.fi/en/research/virtual-acoustics). In other words, efficient perceptual (subjective) processing is a core competence in extremely complex environmental situations but it requires a systematic and a language of its own.

OP as a concept is receiving increasing interest in the study of entrepreneurship (cf. Shane & Venkataraman, 2000; Eckhardt & Shane, 2003, Zolin, 2013). Most of these studies use the terms opportunity identification, opportunity recognition and opportunity pursuit but with much conceptual variation. However, as far as I have noticed it they do not include any real theory of perception and instead rely on everyday concepts of perception. Hence they have remained descriptive, and conceptually superficial.

Among the OP studies there is an interesting approach concerning the need to speed up the strategy process. Eckhardt & Shane, 2003 have introduced what they call “The life cycle of opportunities” by which they refer to the risk for transient advantages – just like in any strategic choice – in capitalizing on a new opportunity.  Their view is related to the classic work and ideas by Schumpeterian (1934) and suggests an approach to manage the temporal risks of quickly emerging and changing competitive landscape.

Participation spans the firm’s perception array

Organizations vary in how much they involve their personnel or the customer-audience in their vision processes.  Firms having their roots in the Nordic countries are known from the participatory organizational culture. However, the underlying thought pattern is the same as elsewhere, namely that company vision is to be shared; unit- and even individual visions should be aligned and by that make the vision respected and pursued. Only if something extraordinary – in terms of risk management – happens the shared vision can and should be immediately changed or modified. In normal practice, however, the iteration is accomplished only every year and typically, less frequently, a major change is introduced. Emphasizing the ‘ shared vision’ has overshadowed the real need for shared organizational perception.

The complexities of the present world, the global and multi-cultural giants, the networked environment and the emerging value networks have for some time challenged a straightforward ‘shared vision’ paradigm. For example, the powerful and connected social media – external or internal to firms – networks, and the new information and communication channels have made almost any organizational system practically open and continuously adaptive in nature.  Navigating and managing an open system, in a multi-cultural and dynamic network world demands specific framing of the value chains that are fast becoming networks. Ecosystem ambitions, so fashionable a concept in the consideration of the digital markets, flourish and companies try to find competitive advantages through building them or participating in the existing ones.

As a result the traditional strategic orientation of the firm much evolve towards an attention system almost like a perception array being strongly guided and directed by its intelligent and multidimensional perception. Of course, the mission of the firm remains the foundation although even that can become increasingly challenging. Sticking to the traditional vision-strategy cycle is a major risk itself and it can become an obstacle to organizational progress as it has happened to the Finnish Government. The search for a dynamic strategy process model is on.

At the writing of this I just read a hilarious and educating article on how the management of many firms have already learned a double behavior: the strategy life vs. real life: The article  “Zorro-management” by professors Mika Pantzar ja Janne Tienari (Kauppalehti 28th November 2013) describes their observations on how the local management of multi-national or otherwise centralized, large companies are learning to lead a double life: to obey to and communicate with the headquarters according to the top-down strategy demands and the jargon to which they just have to respond by “yeas, of course” and “here is our strategy document” and to behave as good company strategists. But at night – in real life – they put on their Zorro masks and work with real, local company people and try to help them to work, make working life worth living, to use their own thinking and understanding to achieve something good. Not all companies have a brave Zorro to dare this and I doubt if a Zorro really ever gets promoted in Finland.

Requirements for the tools of strategic perception

There is the hidden assumption that it is realistic to assume the existence of a unanimous audience for a company vision. As a consequence, the management feels the pressure for effective communication which then forces the vision statements to be condensed and easy to understand by everyone – actually defined by the weakest links – in defining the objectives, either in the form of economical, value-related or other performance measures. It is probably impossible to find a vision definition that would be complex, inherently adaptive, multi-purpose, dynamic and multi-dimensional in nature. There are many reasons for this and one is the requirement to be able to measure the progress towards the vision. Furthermore, a plethora of metric are then used actually to freeze the vision and the strategy work. This overall process has not changed over the years and is getting relatively slower.

The vision statements are meant to be ambitious and to promise all the good for the firm and its customers. It is no surprise then that there is the frequent complaint that “they failed to fulfill the vision”. For example, our leading Government members seem actually afraid of failing publicly to reach – at any price – the visions or goals of which they are responsible in the Governmental Program.

On a national level and even within the political system the information society is making individual (human) visions increasingly different.  Accordingly, the perception of opportunities for a progress are becoming fragmented. Instead of emphasizing the coherent vision model in firms, the perception-based strategy view suggests to take it as a fact that a detailed, shared vision is becoming impossible and even be a hindrance to the firm. Of course, shared interest in and possibility for opportunity perception is crucial at al levels of a modern firm: you may call it empowerment, delegation, directing attention, motivation, or value-based behavior, but in essence it means a shared ground that guides the orientation to opportunities. Opportunity perception on the other hand, precedes personal and organizational intentions (cf. https://gotepoem.wordpress.com/2012/10/04/the-psychology-behind-internet-of-behaviors-ib/) and the pursuit of opportunities (cf.  Stevenson, H. H., and T. M. Amabile. “Entrepreneurial Management: In Pursuit of Opportunity.” Harvard Business School Press, 1999).

Perhaps in the near future some of the following elements will the core elements of a dynamic strategy process in a firm having a purpose, motivation and goals:

– spanning the perception array,
– defining  intelligent and purposeful perception,
– processing of intention data,
– support for opportunity perception
– pursuit of opportunities and
– tuning the feed-back architecture.

It may be difficult and risky to change the current system, especially starting from a well-defined and rigid strategy model. The obstacles are many, ranging from strategy-oriented reward systems and power structures to the dominant organizational cultures. I do not have direct data available here but I guess that the speed by which the vision statements are today proving to be wrong, irrelevant or even hazardous, is increasing.

Guidelines for building a purposeful strategy process?  Not yet.

To return back to where we started: all animals – alone or as herds – are capable of opportunity perception, of purposeful, goal-directed behavior relying on the biologically implemented strategy systems and intelligent perception architectures. Using these resources they build an internal world model according to which they can pursuit their goals and act with full power when needed.

Opportunity perception is almost totally unknown perceptual-cognitive-motivational-creative phenomenon but it is an essential aspect of intelligent perception. As a first approximation I introduced the foundations of the concept of  “Firm perception” which actually means a functional entity consisting of Perception architecture+ Intelligent perception+Opportunity perception+Opportunity pursuit. I will later continue developing it further and bring it closer to perception-inspired building of the strategy process.

Conquering the audio space: let the world talk to me!

December 3, 2013 § Leave a comment

Visual technologies and culture surround us everywhere and has made us deaf to innovative audio. Simultaneously, the radio, music channels, and mobile talk have made us blind to the huge possibilities of the audio space in general.

What follows is again one of the ideas I’ve presented to the representatives of a decreasingly famous telecommunication firm in Finland – without too much excitement of reception: expanding the audio space for any human purpose. So, I will here shortly introduce the concepts in the hope that somewhere, some might be inspired by it. Whatever happens, these technological innovations will be available for us one day.

Visual information overloads us: the displays get larger and cheaper, 3D is here, flashing, moving, and talking displays surround us, ebooks are desperately trying to conquer our everyday life, and more is to come.  It is easy to predict what will happen: we have to learn to neglect the visual streams, fight against the visual noise by neglect, and the broadcasters will be frustrated observing the decreasing efficiency of their visual communications.

The simple reason for the problem of sensory disturbances and interference is that we are extremely bad in attending to two or more simultaneous tasks requiring vision. Because we are visual creatures and our surrounds have already been conquered by visuals, a simple solution is a better use of different sensory channels, which in today’s communication practice means expanding the available audio space and boosting its potential.

The familiar visual and audio developments have overshadowed the possibility to use audio space in a novel way and for new forms of communications, shadowing, interaction, on-line face-to-face communication, audio-shopping, and audio-based browsing – spontaneous talking to each other.

This is how it could go:

Imagine that we could always hear what we see: a shop telling its story, a person talking to anyone who wants to hear about his or her life, car drivers telling where they are going, train saying when its leaving, practically any object or anyone of us – could have a directional audio transmitter that sends audio that we want to broadcast or with what we want to create interaction. We would have audio connection with everything and everybody we can see and with those who can see us and are interested.  There are numerous technological ways to accomplish this.

Some might think this is just augmented reality that you could use as an application with the googleglasses, for example. Yes, of course it could be used with them but it is easier, and more fun and we are simply more efficient and accurate in just pointing at what interests us. We can then use the head and eye movements for what they are needed for in our attentive behavior.

More importantly: it is time to expand the audio space in our everyday life – work, education, business, and on just about any activity that is relevant to us. Anyone interested in the information offered through such audio sources could then get access – with practically no more effort or disturbance than from listening to music – by simply pointing his device to the source and locking to it: the object, the shop window, a person, or whatever and start reception or even interaction. A shop might want to tell about their new products, campaigns or offerings or just about their own thinking about anything. An advert could tell more than is shown by the flashing visuals to the eager listener. Objects could talk to us. People could talk to each other more. And it would not block our vision. But we would be in control – always.

A huge untouched audio space waits for the conqueror and is available for us for innovative and valuable purposes. As a technology it would be less disturbing than the visual one that demands our full 100% attention when looking at or reading something on a display or following a trailer or other ongoing story. Driving a car and following a live broadcast from a large display near the road is simply dangerous. We all have already learned how easy it is to listen to music when walking on the street, at work or while being engaged with other activities of life. Visual world alone is simply too demanding.

Finally, it is possible that these ideas have been around already for years. If so, I just wish something will happen with it in real audio life. If it is really new, perhaps a mobile phone company could conquer the audio space first. Internet of general audio does not really exist yet. And last, a mp is not a bad pointer and the earplugs are here already here. The audio space is huge and only the audio imagination sets the limits.

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