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Spandrels: A new perspective on Data Analytics at Fortune 500 Companies – Part 1

POSTED IN: Data Analytics & Visualization Blog

“The term spandrel was an architecture term originating during the Roman era to explain the triangle area between two arches that come together.“ Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spandrel_%28biology%29

Geneticists coined this term for the use of explaining secondary byproducts of adaptions that were not necessarily adaptations themselves.   


“Features of an organism arising as byproducts, rather than adaptations, that have no clear benefit for the organism's fitness and survival.  Spandrels are characteristics that did not originate by the direct action of natural selection and that were later co-opted for a current use

I love this concept. 

Accidental byproducts that result in some future useful benefit.    The intersection of the unintentional suddenly becoming remarkable or valuable.


There is an article I read more than 8 years ago, which really stuck with me – it is a New York Times Magazine article titled “Darwin’s God” - http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/04/magazine/04evolution.t.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0   it is a wonderful read, in my opinion.   Thought provoking.

Anyway, from the celestial to the terrestrial….

 In the next few weeks I’m going to be blogging about how this concept translates to Data Analytics – with a focus on Fortune 500 Companies.    

For example, thinking about at the data-byproducts (aka ‘dark data’) that arises from normal day to day operations, organizational capabilities that exist to support other normal corporate efforts, and strategic positions that exist to support the primary corporate strategy. 

Then, the thought exercise will be how we might apply the concept of the ‘spandrel’ to these intersections.



In short - thinking about how to recognize organizational characteristics that exist at the intersections, and how they may be leveraged to deliver stakeholder value from accidental byproducts.

If successful, the hope is that this fresh perspective can help develop a 'mental model' - a new tool to explore potential opportunities.  A new lens for leaders to look for latent potential in the large organization.


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About the Author

Ryan Anderson

Ryan Anderson

Hi! I like to play with data, analytics and hack around with robots and gadgets in my garage. Lately I've been learning about machine learning.

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Description is...<br/>Data Analytics & Visualization Blog - Generating insights from Data since 2013

Created: July 25, 2014


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