I have sat through meetings in which otherwise intelligent people spoke earnestly about “evolving a service” or “evolving a product”. They weren’t talking about the evolution of the service or the product but of an active and willed process. This is creation, this is innovation, this is development, but it isn’t evolution!

Services and products evolve often as a following of our efforts and sometimes despite our efforts. Products and services most certainly evolve out of a mess of producer and consumer activities, but this is not to say that either can definitely cause a given outcome. Evolution is about adaptation, about reaction.

Okay… evolution doesn’t have to mirror biological evolution. This I’ll take as a given. But I think that when most people speak the word evolve in an imperative manner, they have some sort of quasi-biological image in their heads, of things slowly taking shape and working, slowly but surely, success! Evolution is as much about multitudes of attempts and failure as it is about success.