Here are a few written accounts of waves:
- In Defense of Animals: The Second Wave (2005)
- The Third Wave: The Classic Study of Tomorrow (1980)
- The Third Wave: An Entrepreneur’s Vision of the Future (2017)
- The Fourth Wave: Digital Health (2017)
- Coffee – The Fourth Wave: A fresh roasting revolution (2018)
- The Fifth Wave: The Evolution of American Higher Education (2020)
- Riding the Fifth Wave in Higher Education (2018)
- The Sixth Wave: How to succeed in a resource-limited world (2016)
1. What’s going on here? Why do publishers of Big Idea Nonfiction love the word “wave” – so much they reuse ordinal wave titles?
Maybe because a wave is a boost of energy, a rush, a surge, a swell, an outbreak. In other words, it’s partly thrilling and partly scary as hell.
No one controls a wave, it just happens and all you can do is observe it, try understand it, and dive in. You can play in it idly, like an otter, or let it thrust your business forward.
Authors of the books listed above didn’t create their waves – they noticed them, understood them, and named them.
2. Steve Case’s distinction between Second Wave and Third Wave Internet businesses is relevant to many of you – you’re playing in between and among these waves.
Second Wave Internet companies ignore rules and regulations and let us find, organize, and share. That means more information, ideas, and even love – that’s amazing, at the right dosage. But they still feel like things you use “when you’re online” (Google, Basecamp, Skype).
Third Wave entrepreneurs will take the next step: challenge the world’s biggest sectors that most affect daily life – health, education, food, energy, and transportation.
But to do so, they’ll need to build industry partnerships and navigate public policy.
If you provide consultative services, you’re already thinking like this because you know it’s not always about solving problems with software – yet you still know how to leverage it.
3. No one person starts a wave, but you can give it a name if you notice it. As I write this and you read it, there multiple unknown waves.
Positioning exercise: the business you have, your particular service or product you sell – name an idea wave that it’s part of. You can pick a wave someone else has identified or make up your own.