By Nathan Johnson & Austin LaRoche
Blockchain could be the foundation for the next generation of digital applications, but that day may still be relatively far off. Still, the implications are too significant to ignore. Blockchain is likely here to stay, so its relevance will only grow with time. Now is the time to sit up and start observing what’s happening.
First, a lay of the land – how could we envision our current position on a timeline for blockchain’s progress from idea to full-scale adoption? Such a timeline can’t be gauged solely by incremental technical improvements, though these will play a role in “greasing the wheels” of widespread adoption. But what if we consider blockchain from the perspective of social dynamics? Transformative social changes, particularly those with far-reaching effects into the future, typically follow a progression of six steps. Whether the rise of a new religion, a political movement, or simply the disbursement of an idea, these are the basic markers for its advancement from grassroots to mainstream.
EVOLUTIONARY PHASES OF TRANSFORMATIVE CHANGES
1. A movement begins with the emergence of a “prophet.” Whether an individual or collective around the same time, these are the notable first proponents of an idea.
2. The work begun by the “prophet” observes growth in early adopters or “disciples.” The movement is still mostly a fringe interest at best, met with skepticism by most.
3. By the third stage, a movement has gained its “clergy.” This is a more substantial following taking shape as an organized body of thought and effort, with an increase in interest and involvement from previously unaffiliated groups or persons.
4. Stages 4 and 5 are tiers for political bodies’ recognizing or taking notice of the growing effort. Stage 4 is the initial introduction of an idea to state-level thinking, typically characterized by some early legislation. This could be restrictive legislation, but other cases may demonstrate a early legislation designed to test the waters to outright adoption within existing infrastructure.
5. The fifth stage, government sponsorship, is where a government, perhaps at the level of a single state, fully embraces a movement.
6. A transformative change reaches the peak of its evolution in the sixth stage, with widespread community, government, and even global acceptance of its tenets.
This model can be seen functioning in several otherwise-dissimilar historical contexts. For instance, in the landscape of US historical changes, the Civil Rights Movement and the push to legalize recreational cannabis don’t have many aspects in common, but this framework would reveal a similar process for them both to go from an unacknowledged position to changing reality as we know it.
If this framework were applied to blockchain’s advancement, Satoshi could be considered the “prophet” who started it all, followed by the “discipleship” of Bitcoin miners. Corporate advocates and startups are the beginnings of an organizational body that will continue to expand. We obviously have not reached the full-scale adoption of stage 6 yet, but some early legislating activity in Delaware and other key states means blockchain could be roughly in between stages 4 and 5.
Even if we are still several years away from blockchain’s more widespread understanding and use, we have reached a point where it seems wise to seek out opportunities to start getting involved. Organizations looking to assume a position in this conversation can consider a few key strategic questions:
1. Do you have a designated person or group within your organization leading your knowledge and participation in the blockchain discussion?
Active participation in blockchain developments will be of most value if it’s receiving the full energy and attention of a well-positioned, well-informed individual. Installing an individual leader, likely a VP-level technologist or someone similar, to own responsibility for your organization’s blockchain initiatives, can better position you for internal projects or external engagement on blockchain-related activities.
2. Are there relevant pilot projects within your industry that you can spearhead or join?
A pilot project is a limited-scale, real-world implementation of any technology or concept to improve working knowledge and explore innovative potential, typically intended to develop a tangible solution. Developing or joining a blockchain pilot project could either reveal a solution for an existing problem area in your organization or industry, or light the way to a new direction into which your organization can grow.
3. Have you attended conferences or webinars where prominent voices are speaking on the technology and its applications?
You can spend all the time you like reading about a movement or idea on the Internet, but there is no substitute for finding a community of like-minded individuals sharing in the momentum. These can be found in conferences like Blockchain Expo Global, Blockchain Summit, and World Blockchain Forum, as well as smaller scale events or online communities. Not only does participating offer insight into developing trends and possibilities with the technology, but it communicates your interest in being a future-oriented organization.
There is a level of uncertainty with all these considerations that shouldn’t be ignored. The likelihood of developments not-yet-public could cast a different light on this entire article. Conversely, any investment in a developing but promising technology carries a degree of risk. Waiting to act until everything is fully known is a safer path, to be sure, but by then the realm of speculation will have long become reality. The leaders of that reality will be the ones who took the little information available and plowed headlong into the future.
This article originally appeared on FischerJordan.com. It has been updated exclusively for Qrius.
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